WASHINGTON (CNN) - Massachusetts Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy returned to work Monday after a battle with brain cancer that hospitalized him in May.
Greeted by 100 waving staffers beneath a banner that read "Welcome Back," Kennedy appeared eager to get back to work.
"I feel fine ... looking forward particularly to working with Barack Obama on health care", he said.
Known as the "Lion of the Senate," Kennedy underwent surgery on a malignant brain tumor this summer following a seizure suffered at his home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts.
The 76-year-old Democrat chairs the Senate Committee on Health and wasted little time addressing a universal health care bill widely expected to be introduced in the new Congress.
"I'm very hopeful this will be a prime item on the agenda", he said. "The president-elect has indicated that this is going to be a priority and I certainly hope it will."
Kennedy, who has represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate since his election in 1962, made his first appearance on Capitol Hill since surgery this summer to vote on a Medicare bill where he received a standing ovation.
In August, he made a second dramatic appearance at the Democratic National Convention, pledging to see Barack Obama to the White House and his own return to the Senate floor.
One of only six senators in U.S. history to serve more than 40 years, he is an iconic liberal champion of social issues such as health care, family leave, and the minimum wage.
Kennedy is also the youngest of four brothers in a powerful and legendary family. They include Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, a former U.S. attorney general, a front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president when he was assassinated in 1968, and John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, also a victim of an assassin's bullet.
Ted Kennedy ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1980. He endorsed then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for the 2008 nomination.
During a speech given at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, he compared now President-Elect Obama to the late President Kennedy.