Sen. Edward Kennedy’s brain cancer is in remission and he is expected back in the Senate after the Memorial Day recess to spearhead healthcare reform, according to Democratic colleagues.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that he spoke with Kennedy’s wife, Vicki, in the past few days and was told the 77-year-old lawmaker is “doing fine.”
Reid said Kennedy’s cancer is in remission and added that while the lawmaker is going through another regiment of treatment, the procedure “is not unusual.”
“This is something we expected,” he said.
Kennedy, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, has been mostly absent from the chamber for the past year, recovering in Florida and Massachusetts.
He is expected to lead a markup of highly anticipated health reform legislation in his first month back - one of the biggest bills of the year and a signature domestic initiative for President Obama.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a senior member of the HELP Committee, said that Kennedy is scheduled to return to the Senate full time the week after Memorial Day recess to chair the committee markup.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), one of Kennedy’s closest friends in the Senate, also said that Kennedy would return to wield the gavel on healthcare reform during the first week in June.
Kennedy was diagnosed in May of 2008 with a brain tumor that was discovered after he suffered a seizure at his home. Since then, he has spent considerable time out of public view.
However, he has flown into Washington and elsewhere on occasion to help his party. He did show up to cast a decisive vote on Medicare legislation in July, made an appearance at the Democratic National Convention in the fall and presided over former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's (D-S.D.) confirmation hearings to be secretary of Health and Human Services (Daschle later withdrew his nomination amid a controversy over his taxes).
Kennedy also attended Obama's inauguration, a move that proved to be too much. After the ceremony, he suffered a seizure at a lunch inside the Capitol and was rushed to the hospital. His office said it was brought on by fatigue. The moment prompted many to speculate that his health was worse than some had let on.
But he returned to the chamber a few weeks later to cast a vote that helped move along Obama's $787 billion stimulus package and Reid told colleagues he expected Kennedy to return full time when the weather warmed up.
On Tuesday, Reid confirmed that Kennedy would in fact return in June.
Kennedy has been working behind the scenes on the healthcare legislation and even dropped his seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee to focus his attention on that policy area. He is expected to lead the debate in the upper chamber along with Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
Somehow I missed that he'd dropped his Judiciary seat to focus on healthcare, wow! Leaving the committee that he was second only to the chairman in. That's dedication.