Ailing Kennedy aims to return to Senate in January
Associated Press | 9/10/2008, 5:08 a.m.
WASHINGTON — Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., who has brain cancer, will not be on Capitol Hill this week when Congress returns from its summer break. He intends to work from his Massachusetts home this fall and return to the Senate in January.
A Kennedy aide said that the Democratic lawmaker’s doctors are pleased with his progress, but want him to keep working from home through the fall.
The 76-year-old Kennedy made a dramatic speech last month at the Democratic National Convention in Denver that drew a rousing response from delegates. Kennedy has been one of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s strongest supporters.
“As Senator Kennedy said two weeks ago in Denver, he intends to be on the floor of the United States Senate next January when we begin to write the next great chapter of American progress,” spokeswoman Melissa Wagoner said in a statement.
Kennedy’s appearance at the convention was a surprise. He was only supposed to be honored with a video tribute. His doctors had been wary of the Denver appearance, especially his exposure to crowds, given the weakness of his immune system after weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
He also hosted a breakfast for friends and members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation while in Denver.
Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor after he had a seizure in May. He has had surgery and a six-week course of chemotherapy and radiation. He has been working from his home in Hyannis Port, Mass.
Kennedy in recent weeks has been laying the groundwork for a renewed push early next year on his signature issue, universal health care. He hopes to capitalize on any momentum that the next president carries into office, particularly if it is Obama, an ally on health care.
Kennedy this summer has been working closely with his son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., on a mental health parity bill requiring equal health insurance coverage for mental and physical illnesses. A national service bill the senator has been working on is also expected to be unveiled this week.
The senator has largely kept a low profile this summer. But he made a surprise visit to the Senate in July to cast an important Medicare vote.
The House and Senate reconvened Monday for a session before the November elections.