Thursday, January 3, 2013, proved to be a very exciting Swearing In Day for the 113th Congress, as this was the moment marking Senator Mark Kirk’s (R-IL) triumphant and emotional return to Washington, D.C. after suffering a stroke last January. At 11:30 a.m., cheered on by over 100 colleagues from the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, family and friends, and assisted by close friend Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), as well as by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kirk climbed the Capitol steps up to the Senate chamber. Biden, as president of the Senate, played a formal and symbolic role, since the vice president also suffered a stroke in 1989. After seven months of hospitalization, Biden was escorted up the steps in a similar fashion by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY).
In an interview with the Daily Herald of suburban Chicago, Kirk said he visualized the Capitol steps as a source of inspiration as he toiled through his recovery. In December, Neurosurgery’s very own Dr. Richard Fessler, who operated on Sen. Kirk, said that his recovery was “remarkable and exceeds my expectations” (and, certainly everyone here at Neurosurgery Blog shares Dr. Fessler’s sentiments that Kirk’s return and progress is remarkable).
In addition to this inspirational day for Sen. Kirk, it was also a day of records and firsts for the U.S. Congress. The new Congress includes a record number of women, 101 across both chambers, counting three nonvoting members. There will be 20 women in the Senate and 81 in the House for the 113th Congress.
While the physician community lost two physician Members of Congress — one to retirement and the other to defeat — once again there will be 20 physicians in the 113th Congress, including 9 surgeons. They are:
- Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY); Orthopaedic Surgeon
- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK); Family Physician
- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY); Ophthalmologist
- Rep. Amerish Bera (D-CA)*; Family Physician
- Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI); General Surgeon
- Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA); Thoracic Surgeon
- Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA); Family Physician
- Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN); Thoracic Surgeon
- Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX); OB/GYN
- Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA); Gastroenterologist
- Del. Donna Christensen (D-VI); Family Physician
- Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN); Family Physician
- Rep. John Fleming (R-LA); Family Physician
- Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA); OB/GYN
- Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD); Anesthesiologist
- Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV); Emergency Room Physician
- Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA); Psychiatrist
- Rep. Tom Price (R-GA); Orthopaedic Surgeon
- Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN); OB/GYN
- Rep. Paul Ruiz (D-CA)*; Emergency Room Physician
*denotes Freshman member
As we have already foretold in posts on Neurosurgery Blog, there is much to done in the 113th Congress, and organized neurosurgery stands ready to work with policymakers on key aspects of health policy in the coming year.