Sen. Kirk returns to Senate after year-long recovery from stroke

Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkStale, misguided, divisive: minimum wage can't win elections Immigration critics find their champion in Trump Trump's nominee to lead USAID has the right philosophy on international aid MORE (R-Ill.) returned to the Senate on Thursday after nearly a year's absence.

Kirk, who had a stroke in January 2012, walked up the Capitol steps holding a cane and with the help of Vice President Biden and Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinGOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace Trump steps up courtship of Dems The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-W.Va.).

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Waiting for him at the top was practically the entire Senate — including newly elected senators waiting to be sworn in — members of the Illinois House delegation and Senate staffers.

Cheers rang out as Kirk began his climb. He walked into the Capitol shortly before noon, when the 113th Congress was gaveled into session.

Biden, Manchin and Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE (D-Ill.) escorted Kirk into the building and helped him take off his coat.

Kirk told the assembled reporters it was "good to see you" and then walked slowly into the Senate chamber.

"He looks terrific and speaks so, so well," said Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Memo: Trump pulls off a stone-cold stunner The Memo: Ending DACA a risky move for Trump Manchin pressed from both sides in reelection fight MORE (D-Nev.). "I'm very, very proud of him."

Doctors said the stroke didn't affect Kirk's cognitive ability but did affect his mobility on the left side.

The senator is expected to use a wheelchair in the Capitol to get around more quickly.