Kirk offers tribute to 'stroke battle buddy' Johnson
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (R-Ill.) delivered a touching tribute to retiring Sen. Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (D-S.D.) at Thursday's Senate Appropriations Committee meeting.

Both senators were able to return to their duties after suffering massive strokes: Johnson in 2006 and Kirk six years later.

The panel was voting on the 2015 spending bill, authored by Johnson and Kirk, for the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs.

Kirk recalled that after he suffered a stroke, he watched as much video as he could of Johnson, whom he described as his "stroke battle buddy," for inspiration.

"I constantly asked myself, 'are you as good as Sen. Tim Johnson?' " Kirk said. "God, gosh guy — I am going to miss you."