Sen. John Fetterman plans to return to the Senate the week of April 17 after more than a month of inpatient treatment for depression, according to two people with direct knowledge of his plan.
The Pennsylvania Democrat began receiving treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in mid-February. His return will be welcome news for Senate Democrats, who have a slim majority and have struggled to deal with absences over the last month.
It remains uncertain exactly when Fetterman will leave the hospital, but a person close to Fetterman confirmed he will be back to his Senate business after the coming two-week April recess. Fetterman is not the only senator who has been absent from the Senate. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have also missed significant time. McConnell was recently released from physical therapy after suffering a concussion and a minor rib fracture.
But Fetterman’s situation has been different. The six-foot-eight, bald-headed and tattooed freshman has been open about his mental health challenges and the need to seek help.
Fetterman also suffered a stroke in May, during Pennsylvania’s Senate primary, and was sidelined off the trail for months afterward as he recovered. Doctors have said that depression is common among stroke survivors. Since being sworn in, Fetterman has used transcription technology to help him talk to colleagues and conduct Senate business.
Fetterman’s Republican opponent, Mehmet Oz, made a campaign issue out of his health and criticized him for not being more transparent about it. Fetterman went on to win in November by nearly five percentage points.
Fetterman’s chief-of-staff, Adam Jentleson, tweeted earlier this month that “John is well on his way to recovery and wanted me to say how grateful he is for all the well wishes” and that he is “laser focused on PA & will be back soon.”
Fetterman’s aides said he has been meeting regularly with his staff and family at the hospital. He also signed onto a bipartisan rail safety bill during his treatment.