WASHINGTON - Senator Edward M. Kennedy was back at work in the Senate yesterday for the first time since his surgery earlier this month to clear a partially blocked artery in his neck.
"I'm feeling fine," the Massachusetts Democrat said in a telephone interview. "I think it's just about getting the energy level back . . . The strength has been coming back daily."
Kennedy spoke on the Senate floor about children's health insurance and Amtrak funding, attended the weekly luncheon with Senate Democrats, and was at a meeting about education legislation. He also planned to watch last night's televised Democratic presidential debate.
Kennedy, 75, had been resting at the family's Hyannis Port compound since his Oct. 12 surgery in Boston. Kennedy was flooded with get-well greetings from Democrats and Republicans alike as he recovered, though "there was a kind of continuing sense from some of the Republicans that I maybe ought to stay in Massachusetts a bit longer," he said, jokingly.
Among those calling was President Bush. "He was calling to wish me well, but we talked a little shop as well," Kennedy said. The senator said he used the chat to lobby about the No Child Left Behind law. Kennedy played a key role in crafting the five-year-old education law, which faces a tough renewal fight in Congress.
Kennedy also took time to watch the Boston Red Sox sweep the Colorado Rockies in the World Series. "What a time for the Red Sox," Kennedy said.
He said doctors on Cape Cod removed the staples from his neck and he has a follow-up appointment in about 10 days, but does not anticipate any problems.
Kennedy has experienced back pain since a 1964 plane crash, in which he suffered a back injury, punctured lung, broken ribs, and internal bleeding.