Mark Kirk Returns To The Senate

It was just under a year ago that Illinois Senator Mark Kirk suffered a stroke that kept him out of the Senate and recovering for the better part of 2012. Today, on the first day of the 113th Congress, he returned to the Senate and fulfilled a promise that he’d walk up the steps of the Senate:

Keeping a pledge he made last spring, Sen. Mark Kirk climbed the Capitol steps on Thursday to mark his return almost a year after suffering a major stroke.

The 53-year-old Republican from Illinois was greeted by two top Democrats: Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Dick Durbin, the senior senator from Illinois.

Using a four-pronged cane, Kirk made the climb assisted by Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who is Kirk’s best friend in the Senate. Hundreds of well-wishers stood and applauded, including more than 60 members of Congress.

Biden, addressing Kirk as he began his climb, remarked: “You got all day, pal. It took me seven months to make these steps.” The vice president in 1988 was absent from the Senate for months because ofo surgeries for brain aneurysms.

The vice president grasped Kirk’s right upper arm, and Manchin, on the left, kept his hand around Kirk’s waist, to assist and guide him on the way up.

“Hi, guys,” Kirk told reporters and photographers.Kirk’s climb took about 20 minutes, since he paused at times, giving a hearty wave or a thumbs-up to cheering lawmakers. He got a hug and kiss from one lawmaker, Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C.

Kirk, wearing eyeglasses, a light blue tie and a dark suit and overcoat, conquered each step chiefly using his right leg and foot, as his left leg remains impaired. His left arm appeared largely immobilized.

Several House and Senate members from Illinois were among those who turned out, cheering “Bravo” when Kirk reached the top of the steps at the Senate’s exterior door, located on the second floor of the Capitol. One of them was Rep.-elect Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a double amputee from the Iraq war, who called it a “fantastic day” for people with disabilities and for the nation.

Great for you, Senator.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. lankyloo says:

    I’m really impressed he’s back. His stroke was awful, and he’s done a great job recovering from it. I’ve always liked him, even as I voted against him, and I firmly believe we need more Republicans in congress like him, rather than the extremists who seem to be multiplying.

  2. edmondo says:


    If he votes ike an extremist, isn’t he one?

  3. lankyloo says:

    @edmondo: Most of the extremism has been in the House, and Kirk was one of the Republicans in the Senate that worked more with Democrats. He’s not as moderate as I would like, but much better than the alternative.

  4. edmondo says:


    Google is your friend:

    Mark Kirk (R)

    Senate – Illinois – Up for re-election in 2016

    Voting history

    Votes with party


    of 484 votes

  5. swbarnes2 says:


    Some of those disagreements from the party line are on significant issues. The NRA gave Kirk an F. There are only a handful of Republicans who support the VAWA, and Kirk is one of them. Kirk also voted to repeal DADT. He is, at least on some no-brainer bills, voting like a sane human being, and not like a Republican.

    But yeah, he calls himself a Republican, it would be silly to expect sanity as a rule from anyone like that.

  6. Interesting news about Mark Kirk! I would keep watch on more updates on this. Thanks for this article. It was really useful for me.