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Helms goes home to continue recuperation


RALEIGH, North Carolina (CNN) -- Two months after undergoing major surgery to replace a heart valve, U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, returned home to Raleigh on Wednesday after being released from a Virginia rehabilitation facility.

"The senator clapped loudly when the plane touched down at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, declaring, 'It's great to be home,'" said his chief of staff, Jimmy Broughton, in a statement.

Helms, 80, serving his fifth term in the Senate, underwent surgery on April 25 to replace a faulty prosthetic heart value installed in 1992 during quadruple-bypass surgery. He was transferred from a hospital to a rehabilitation facility earlier this month, and he returned to Raleigh to recuperate, Broughton said.

The senator, an icon of the conservative right, is not seeking re-election this year to a sixth term.

On Wednesday, he was the only senator not voting when the Senate, by a vote of 99-0, approved a resolution condemning a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional.




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