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John Fetterman will return to the Senate April 17 after treatment for depression

Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA). (Official portrait)

Sen. John Fetterman will return to the Senate the week of April 17.

The update, first reported by Politico, comes six weeks after Fetterman started inpatient treatment for depression at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Fetterman spokesperson Joe Calvello confirmed the return date to The Inquirer.

Calvello told The Inquirer he did not know when Fetterman would be released from the hospital in advance of his return. Fetterman’s staff said last week his release was coming without providing a specific timeline.

The Senate will be in recess for the next two weeks beginning Monday, and Fetterman will return when the chamber resumes work.

Fetterman hasn’t voted since Feb. 15 in the Senate, where Democrats have a razor-thin majority, though few major legislative decisions have come before the chamber. In recent weeks, senators have spent almost all their time on confirmation votes, mostly on noncontroversial nominees who have enough support to advance even without Fetterman.

Still, it’s a welcome return for Democrats, who heralded the news of Fetterman’s planned return.

“I visited John yesterday and it’s remarkable how good he looked,” Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) said in a statement Wednesday. “He’s in really good shape. I look forward to welcoming him back to the Senate next month.”

U.S. Rep Dwight Evans (D. Philadelphia) also chimed in on Twitter: “Look forward to seeing you back in the halls of Congress.”

Since he went into the hospital, Fetterman’s staff has been making visits most mornings to give him updates from Capitol Hill. Fetterman has also cosponsored legislation while hospitalized.

Many of his colleagues applauded Fetterman’s public acknowledgment in mid-February that he was suffering from depression and his decision to seek treatment as a courageous disclosure about an often stigmatized topic. Intense scrutiny over his recovery, inpatient care, and long-term health continued, though. Fetterman had suffered a stroke in May.

A more than monthlong hospital stay is considered somewhat long for inpatient depression care. But members of Fetterman’s team have said they didn’t want to rush him back into his new job.

A 2019 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that the average length of hospital stay was six days. Fetterman’s stay has been prolonged because his doctors are working on getting his “medication balance exactly right,” a source close to Fetterman told CNN earlier this month. The source noted an issue with the senator’s blood-pressure medication, related to his stroke, that might have contributed to dizziness.


(c) 2023 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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