Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) returned to the Senate on Monday after a two-month stay at Walter Reed National Hospital for treatment for severe clinical depression.
Fetterman, dressed in his signature hooded sweatshirt and shorts, did not directly respond to questions from assembled reporters as he exited an SUV and entered the Capitol building. Someone asked, “Senator, are you confident you can serve your full six years?”
“It’s great to be back,” Fetterman said, adding, “Thank you.”
With Congress reconvening Monday after a two-week recess, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) also returned to the chamber. He had been absent for more than a month following hospitalization for injuries he sustained during a fall at a fundraising dinner.
Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) remained in the hospital with shingles. She has faced growing pressure from fellow Democrats to resign as her absence has hampered the party’s ability to advance judicial nominations.
Fetterman said last month that he would return to the Senate on Monday, April 17, following his stay at Walter Reed. As the Washington Free Beacon reported last month, Fetterman’s hospitalization for depression is just one of the health challenges the senator faces:
Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed on Feb. 16 after his lifelong battle with depression had taken a turn for the worse. Earlier that month, the Pennsylvania progressive had entered a hospital for lightheadedness. Fetterman suffered a near-fatal stroke on the campaign trail last May.
While Democrats will welcome Fetterman’s return to the upper chamber, his health struggles could raise concerns about his ability to handle his workload going forward. Fetterman’s latest hospital stay raised questions about his path to recovery following his stroke. Fetterman, his wife, and his aides have repeatedly downplayed concerns about his health.
Fetterman’s wife Gisele cited a doctor’s assessment of her husband when asked whether she ever wanted him to quit his Senate campaign.
“No, I mean I waited to see what the doctors thought,” Gisele Fetterman said. “The doctors all said he would make a full recovery and that he’s more in shape to do this.”
Fetterman released a note from his personal doctor—also a campaign donor—that said he “has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office.”
Fetterman’s aides also gave an optimistic assessment of his current health problems. His office said after he checked in to Walter Reed that he would likely be in the facility for “a few weeks.”
Fetterman’s true health status came to light after his initial treatment for lightheadedness. The New York Times reported that Fetterman faced “serious mental health challenges” and had grown concerned that he sustained permanent damage from the stroke because he returned too quickly to the campaign trail.
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