Tim Johnson Expected to Return to Senate in September

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., absent from the Senate since suffering a brain hemorrhage late last year, is likely to return in September, if not earlier, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday.

Reid, D-Nev., said Johnson undergoes physical and speech therapy five days a week and has recovered 90 percent of his speech, although his right side remains weak.

"He and his family and the doctors are trying to decide whether he will come back in September or July, but he's really doing quite well," Reid said.

Johnson's office has closely guarded the details of the senator's illness and recovery.

Julianne Fisher, Johnson's spokeswoman, said no deadline has been set for the senator's return. "We are letting his doctors take the lead. He's getting stronger and stronger every day, but we don't have a definitive date," she said.

Johnson, 60, was rushed to the hospital Dec. 13 after becoming disoriented during a phone call with reporters. Hours later, he underwent emergency surgery and was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, a condition that causes arteries and veins to grow abnormally large, become tangled and sometimes burst.

Since then, he has improved, moving from the hospital to a rehabilitation facility and then to his Fairfax, Va., home outside of Washington.

In a photo released by his office last month, he was wearing a brace on his right arm and walking with a cane and assistance from a therapist.

It is still unclear whether Johnson will seek his third term next year. He won re-election in 2002 by just 524 votes and was considered a likely target for the GOP before he fell ill.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle predicted earlier this week that Johnson will run next year and win.