Sen. John Fetterman, who checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last month for treatment for clinical depression, will return to the Senate during the week of April 17, according to a person familiar with his plans.
The Pennsylvania Democrat has made progress throughout his treatment, the source said, adding that his stay has been this long because doctors have tried to ensure his medication was effective.
Fetterman is one of three senators who have been sidelined for months due to injuries and ailments. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, 81, who suffered a concussion and broken rib after falling earlier this month, is expected to return to the Senate in mid-April as well, while Sen. Dianne Feinstein, an 89-year-old California Democrat, has been recovering from home this month after being hospitalized for shingles. It is not yet known when Feinstein will return.
Fetterman, the 53-year-old freshman who helped cement Democrats’ 51-49 Senate majority last fall, suffered a stroke last year during the days ahead of the primary. And when he returned to the campaign trail, Fetterman often struggled to communicate with lingering auditory processing issues, relying on assistance through devices with closed captioning in order to properly have conversations and answer questions.
The same auditory processing issues impacted him in his early days in the Senate. And when he struggled with substantial weight loss and a loss of appetite in recent weeks, he was diagnosed with clinical depression, later checking himself into Walter Reed for treatment.
Politico first reported Fetterman’s plans to return to the Senate April 17.
CNN earlier reported that Fetterman was expected to soon leave the hospital due to progress with his treatment.
The source, who has spent ample time with Fetterman since he checked in on February 16, said the senator’s physician recently informed him that he will be “as good or better than his best days post-stroke,” referring to the near-fatal stroke he suffered last May.
“He’s doing extremely well,” the source said.
Fetterman’s stay at Walter Reed has lasted this long because the doctors have been trying to get his “medication balance exactly right,” the source said. For instance, doctors learned that his blood pressure medication was too high, which they believed contributed to his dizziness when he checked into George Washington University Hospital last month. A few days after that hospital visit, Fetterman was diagnosed with clinical depression, an illness many stroke survivors have struggled with.
The goal, the source said, has been to take full advantage of his care at Walter Reed to help with other major impacts from his stroke. For instance, neuropsychiatric doctors have helped with the auditory processing issues he’s struggled with in the aftermath of the stroke.
While Fetterman hasn’t left Walter Reed since checking himself in, he hasn’t been confined to his room. There are trails, restaurants like Wendy’s and other parts of the facility that he spends time in, the source said.
This story has been updated with additional developments.