'The Hammer' makes triumphant return to House floor after his acquittal

Former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) made a celebratory return to his old stomping grounds on the House floor Thursday after seeing his criminal conviction overturned in court.

The former majority leader, whose 2010 conviction for money laundering was tossed out on Thursday morning, was in the lower chamber during the close vote on legislation that would cut $39 billion from food stamps.

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Fifteen Republicans defected during the food-stamp vote, but there was no sign "The Hammer" — which was DeLay's nickname for his hard-charging style of leadership — was lending a hand with his famous whipping skills.

"He was just happy to be out there," said Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas), who now holds DeLay's old House seat.

Escorted by a fellow Texan, Rep. John Carter (R), and smiling widely, DeLay received congratulatory handshakes and hugs from more than a dozen Republican House members, including Speaker John BoehnerJohn Boehner3 ways the next president can succeed on immigration reform Republican Study Committee elders back Harris for chairman Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare MORE (R-Ohio) and Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanIncomes are rising, but don't trust GOP to make it a trend GOP lawmakers slam secret agreement to help lift Iran bank sanctions 9/11 bill is a global blunder that will weaken US efforts abroad MORE (R-Wis.), as he made his way across the chamber.

But don't take it as a sign DeLay is making a political comeback.

"He's promised he won't run against me, so he's retired," Olson said with a smile.