Democratic Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania says that he is “very excited” about chairing a hearing when he returns to the U.S. Senate following a two-month absence.
Fetterman was elected to the Senate in November after defeating Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump. The Democrat will return to Washington, D.C., when the current Senate session resumes next week.
The senator was released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on March 31 following successful treatment for severe depression. He had checked himself in for treatment on February 16.
On Wednesday, Fetterman expressed excitement about chairing his first Senate subcommittee. He is expected to chair the Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics, and Research hearing alongside Republican Senator Mike Braun of Indiana on Wednesday.
“The news is out!” Fetterman tweeted. “I’m very excited to chair my first subcommittee hearing next week. We’ll be talking about protecting SNAP, fighting for PA’s farmers in the Farm Bill, and much more. Hope you’ll tune in.
Fetterman also shared to Twitter photos of himself visiting a coffee shop on Wednesday in Bessemer, Pennsylvania, about 65 miles northwest of his home in Braddock. The senator has been in Pennsylvania since being released from the hospital last month.
Just after his release, Fetterman said in a statement that the treatment he had received “changed [his] life” and urged “people who are suffering with depression in red counties and blue counties” to “please get help.”
Dr. David Williamson, Walter Reed’s neuropsychiatry chief and medical director, said that Fetterman’s treatment during hospitalization had “gradually produced remission of his depression.”
Williamson said that Fetterman was also fitted with hearing aids and worked with speech specialists, resulting in a “noticeable” improvement in his speaking abilities. There were no signs that he had any new strokes or new symptoms from the major stroke that he suffered in May.
Fetterman’s hospitalization sparked a revival of Republican suggestions that he is unfit for office due to stroke-related health issues. A poll conducted on behalf of Newsweek last month by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found that a majority of Americans approved of Fetterman taking time off for treatment despite the criticism.
The senator’s absence also resulted in a bizarre “body double” conspiracy theory circulating online. However, the photo that conspiracy theorists falsely claimed was a new image of the “double” actually showed Fetterman just after being released from the hospital following his stroke.
Senate Democrats will no doubt be grateful for Fetterman’s return, especially since their thin majority in the chamber has been imperiled by his recent absence and the continued absence of Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.
Feinstein, who plans to retire after completing her current term in January 2025, ignored increasing calls from members of her own party to resign over ill health on Wednesday.
She has suggested that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer appoint her temporary replacement on the Senate Judiciary Committee instead, due to concerns about successfully confirming President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees.
Newsweek has reached out via email to the office of Fetterman for comment.