[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/09/art.senkennedy.0609.gi.jpg caption="Senate Democrats are missing the knowledge and passion of their veteran colleague."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Lion of the Senate looks ready to roar again, a colleague says.
Sen. Christopher Dodd told a news conference Tuesday that he dined on Sunday night with Democratic colleague Sen. Edward Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer and has been away from the chamber for months.
"He was strong; he was vibrant," Dodd said of Kennedy, who led the drafting of an initial comprehensive health care reform bill despite his illness. "I very much hope Sen. Kennedy will be back."
Dodd has assumed Senate command of the health care issue in Kennedy's absence, and he said Tuesday that Senate Democrats are missing the knowledge and passion of their veteran colleague.
"He wants to come back and be a part of this, obviously," said Dodd, a close personal friend of Kennedy. Still, Kennedy insists that Congress should act on health care now, whether or not he can be there, according to Dodd.
"He is absolutely adamant that we go forward," Dodd said.