Kennedy surprises, returns for Medicare vote

/ Source: The Associated Press

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, battling a brain tumor, walked through a wall of applause into the Senate on Wednesday and cast a stunningly unexpected vote on long-stalled Medicare legislation.

"Aye," the 76-year-old Kennedy said in a loud voice, and he made a thumbs-up gesture as he registered his vote.

Spectators in the galleries that overhang the chamber burst into cheers — a violation of decorum that drew no complaints.

Kennedy made his way into the Senate on his own power, appearing little the worse for his illness. A patch of scalp was clearly visible amid his familiar white hair, although it was not clear whether that was a result of surgery he underwent or the effects of chemotherapy that is part of his treatment.

He walked into chamber accompanied by Sen. Barack Obama, his party's presidential nominee-in-waiting, as well as fellow Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and his own son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island.

Democratic senators, who had been tipped to his presence, burst into applause when he entered. Some Republicans looked around quizzically, then joined in the applause when they saw Kennedy.

Check back for more on this developing story.