Charlie Rangel returns to the House

Rep. Charlie Rangel’s back and he feels “terrific.”
 
After 12 weeks of missed votes in the House owing to a back injury, Rangel (D-N.Y.) made his way onto the chamber floor Monday with the aid of a walker.
 

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Donning a grey suit and black loafers, Rangel planted himself in the chamber’s front row of seats as a virtual procession of Democratic lawmakers made their way to the 21-term lawmaker offering hearty handshakes, back pats and hugs.
 
“I’m doing a lot better,” said Rangel in a brief interview with The Hill following the evening series of votes. “I feel terrific. I get rid of [the walker] next week I think.”
 
A reception was being thrown for Rangel on Monday evening in the basement of the Rayburn House Office Building welcoming him back after his three-month absence. 


Among the lawmakers to visit with Rangel on the House floor were House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (Fla.). 
 
Rangel could use all the help from his powerful colleagues that he can get.

More than missed votes, Rangel’s back injury has thwarted his typically active campaign style as he readies for one of the most heated Democratic primaries on June 26. Over the past three months Rangel has only held several campaign-related events in his district.
 
New York state Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D) poses a significant challenge to Rangel, whose district was recently reapportioned to include a largely Hispanic community in the Bronx. Though Espaillat, a Dominican-American, has not raised as much money as Rangel, he might have an easier time garnering the Hispanic vote in the district’s primary.
 
Rangel said he wasn’t eager to get back out on the campaign trail, but he was ready and feeling up to the challenge.
 
“No, not eager,” he said, giving a characteristic chuckle. “But I’m prepared and ready to go forward. It’s going to be exciting. I just don’t want the polarization. Reapportionment is not friendly to a lot of communities and it hasn’t been too friendly to mine.”