Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., is preparing to come back to Washington when Congress reconvenes in January, though the specific date of his return still could change.
The 53-year-old Kirk, who suffered a stroke last January, has been undergoing intensive rehabilitation back home in the Chicagoland area and has released occasional videos updating constituents on his progress.
“Sen. Kirk said publicly he intends to return in January. He remains on track to be back when the Senate convenes on Jan. 3 for the 113th Congress,” a Kirk spokesman said in an emailed statement.
News around Kirk’s return began to swirl when a Chicago Tribune story Thursday quoted Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., as saying Kirk could be returning to Congress as soon as Jan. 3.
“I’m just really excited,” Hultgren told the Tribune, adding there were plans for a “big party and celebration when [Kirk] comes back.”
“I’m so grateful for the recovery he’s been able to make,” Hultgren said, adding that the Illinois delegation might gather to celebrate Kirk’s return.
The senator’s return seems to be on an even faster track than had been previously thought.
When asked Thursday about a potential Jan. 3 return date for his junior senator, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin deferred to Kirk’s office.
“When I talked to Mark, he mentioned a different date, so I am going to defer to his office. It’s based on his recovery and when he is [able] to return,” Durbin said. “I hope it’s soon. I hope it would be this month. But I think, really, it’s out of my hands. Believe me, there will be a great welcoming reception when he returns.”
A spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to comment on Kirk’s status, also not wanting to get out in front of the senator’s office.
Sources outside of leadership indicated there has been some basic communication between Kirk’s office and GOP leadership about a potential return and that it could be as soon as January.
In November, Kirk completed a 37-floor climb of the Willis Tower to support the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where he was treated as an inpatient and later as an outpatient at his suburban home. In his first public interview then, he told the local NBC affiliate that he had hoped for a January return.
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
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