Thurmond returns to Senate after staying overnight in hospital

Associated Press
Thursday October 04, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Strom Thurmond returned to his job Wednesday, one day after fainting in the chamber and being taken to a hospital. 

Doctors said the 98-year-old Republican likely suffered from dehydration and kept him overnight for tests after he slumped over on his Senate desk Tuesday and was taken by ambulance to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. 

Thurmond, the nation’s oldest and longest-serving senator, left the hospital and returned the Senate in time to vote early in the afternoon against a bill normalizing trade with Vietnam. It passed 88-12 despite his opposition. 

As he sat in a front-row desk Wednesday, senators of both parties made a point of dropping by with handshakes and pats on the back. 

“Good to see you back!” declared Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska. An equally enthusiastic, booming, “Welcome back!” came from Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. 

Thurmond has had bouts of dizziness before and has been to the hospital several times, the most recent in February, when he spent a weekend in Walter Reed suffering from fatigue. 

Aides also say a degenerative hip condition keeps him from traveling extensively. Thurmond was first elected to the Senate in 1954. In 1996, at the age of 93, he became the oldest person ever to serve in Congress.