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

Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven 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.) 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) ManchinPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Toomey to introduce bill broadening background checks for firearms Scott Walker backs West Virginia attorney general in GOP Senate primary MORE (D-W.Va.).

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 DurbinAmerica’s waning commitment to the promise of the First Amendment Senate rejects Trump immigration plan What to watch for in the Senate immigration votes 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 Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake 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.