July 9th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Kennedy: 'It feels great to be back'


Watch Senator Kennedy's return to Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy on Wednesday made his first appearance in Congress since being diagnosed with brain cancer nearly two months ago, casting a single vote to help break a Republican filibuster of an important Medicare bill.

Kennedy was greeted by his colleagues with a lengthy standing ovation when he walked onto the Senate floor just after 4:15 p.m. He was in the Chamber for about 10 minutes, and left the Capitol before the results of the vote were known.

"It feels great to be back. I'm glad to be back in the Senate," Kennedy told CNN as he was leaving Congress.

"It's enormously important... for our seniors to be able to be protected is a key defining issue for this Congress and for this country, and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to be able to express my voice and my vote."

"I'm feeling fine," he added. "I'm fatigued once in awhile, but otherwise pretty good."

He said he hopes to be back full-time soon.

A vote just over a week ago fell one vote shy of the 60 needed to end the filibuster. Wednesday's effort to break the filibuster succeeded, 69-30. Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, did not vote.

Kennedy, a 76-year-old Massachusetts Democrat, had surgery to remove the tumor June 2 and is now undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Kennedy is chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and is an influential Democrat on health-care issues.

President Bush earlier threatened to veto the legislation - so even though the Democrats beat the filibuster, they may need to corral votes afresh to override a veto.

But a spokesman for Harry Reid said it would be "politically impossible" for Republicans who switched their vote after Kennedy's dramatic appearance to change sides again and support a veto.

Filed under: Ted Kennedy
soundoff (178 Responses)
  1. Bob

    And I thought the old guy was going to retire to his estate on Cape Cod

    July 9, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  2. Marion

    You are the greatest Ted Kennedy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  3. Old Stradlater

    A true patriot – truly putting country before self.

    July 9, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. YoungGrad

    That is simply awesome. Way to go Ted!

    That is what legends are made of.

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. dan

    welcome back.

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. lovable liberal

    Ted's not going to take terminal cancer lying down. Are you listening, Harry Reid? If Ted can stand up to cancer, surely you can stand up to unpopular Republicans, even if they whine and pule the way they do.

    July 9, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. baljeet

    I know why kennedy is supporting obama, Its his brain tumor, he can't think straight. May be after chemo he will support hillary.

    July 9, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. karen-phoenix

    Want to see you back, healthy and readly to work for another 8 years under President Obama!!!!! Get well soon and God Bless!!

    July 9, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  9. Mark

    Sort of reminds me of that one "High to Heaven" episode when the Senator played by Eddie Albert comes back to the Senate floor to break a filibuster (tie) after being "dead." While Ted is still with us here physically, the emotion when he walked in the hall must of being similar.

    July 9, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  10. Houston

    I'm no democrat, but I am glad the Senator's health is improving. I would not wish that on anyone. Glad to see you back at the office sir.

    July 9, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. Real person for Obama.

    Mccain have flip flop double the amount Obama change his mind, but yet every republican wants to claim their man is very reliable. or saying Mccain doesn't flip flop.

    July 9, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. Raquel A de Rodriguez

    Senator Kennedy, we are proud and honored to have you as our
    Senator and "Guardian Angel" looking out for us Seniors.

    My husband and I worked two and three jobs most of our lives for
    our four children, whom we were lucky enough to be able to put them
    through college. (Texas A&M, St Edwards Austin, and St Mary's San
    Antonio) but there was not too much left for us, We still feel very blessed. With your help we hope to continue to get our full Medicare.

    Thank you for you and your family's devotion to our country , OUR PRAYERS are with you.

    July 9, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. ABG

    Wecome back Senator Kennedy!

    Thanks for casting your vote to protect Medicare.

    July 9, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  14. John in St. Louis, Mo

    I am not sure Sen Kennedy will see this, but welcome back Teddy, we need you now more than ever. Thank you and God Bless you.

    July 9, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. Marie

    Thank God in heaven for his return. We all need him.

    July 9, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. Aida

    I am speechless at his courage and caring.... ...he is a true inspiration to us all. Welcome back and God bless to a true American hero and legend.

    July 9, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  17. Barbara

    Welcome back, Let the Lion Roar !!!!!

    July 9, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. People make no sense

    Did you drive off a bridge and kill anybody else while he was gone, and then leave the scene?

    July 9, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  19. henry

    please please please!!!
    spreading the words of jesse jackson around like he is the conduit for the community.
    jesse jackson is and has never been the black leader that the media makes him out to be.he is in no position to hark upon anyones moral ground.
    the fact that he still thinks he is a major player in the community at large not just the black community is a joke to many.

    July 9, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. PEEKAY


    July 9, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. Judy

    He is a TRUE American! We love you Uncle Teddy 🙂

    July 9, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  22. Houston Texas

    Abby-–You call Ted Kennedy a "hero". No, the hero's are fighting the war both over seas and here on our streets. Maybe had Ted Kennedy saved that girl from drowning several years ago, I might just consider him a "hero", but I doubt it. Ted Kennedy a "hero", hardly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 9, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  23. Itsallcrap

    The only reason Jesse is 'backing' Obama is hes black. This is the most retarded election in the history of the US. A democratic black man getting votes because people want 'change'. What change do you really expect?

    'Yes we can!' Yes you can what?! Raise taxes? Pull the armed services out of Iraq too early? Lie to the American people about what your beliefs are and who you are friends with to get elected president? Yes you can!

    July 9, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  24. E. de Leon

    Who cares for traditional politicians, its good he recovered.

    July 9, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  25. Tom

    In reference to Jesse Jackson's comments.....Don't take it personally, Jesse. Obama talks down to everyone regardless of race. That's a small part of what makes him an unelectable elitist. Redemptive?? That gives us an interesting look into the "it's our turn" ideology – neither that or "it's historical" are good reasons to elect a president. Aren't we supposed to elect the person who will do the most good for the ENTIRE country?

    July 9, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
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