Ailing Senator Ted Kennedy is back in Washington for the next few weeks to help shepherd through Congress a couple of his legislative pet projects.
The 77-year-old Democrat returned to Capitol Hill last night for a Senate vote on a service bill he and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch introduced. The bill would provide $5 billion over five years to fund 250,000 volunteers in energy, environmental, healthcare, and education programs.
A similar measure passed overwhelmingly last week in the House, 321-105, with 70 Republican votes, and President Obama highlighted the effort in his first joint address to Congress.
Kennedy, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee is expected to stick around for at least two weeks to work on health-care reform, a project the Senator has spent much of his career working to pass. He hopes to work with Obama and Democrats who control Congress to forge a breakthrough in coming months.
The Senator has been spending much of his time in Florida receiving treatments for brain cancer and his staff has been working on the health care issue in his stead.
Kennedy’s expected two-week stay in Washington will be the longest stint for the senator since he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last May. He suffered a seizure at a luncheon in the Capitol following Obama's inauguration.
He was feted earlier this month by President Barack Obama and others at a star-studded birthday concert at the Kennedy Center. Shortly before that he was honored by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown with the honorary title of Sir.