WASHINGTON (AP) -- Robert Byrd, the longest serving senator in history, returned to the chamber Tuesday after being absent for more than two months due to illness.
The 91-year-old West Virginia Democrat, in a now-familiar wheelchair, cast his first vote since May on an amendment to a key defense policy bill.
Byrd was first elected to the Senate in 1958, and in 2006 was re-elected for a record ninth six-year term. Last November he stepped down as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, but he remains the Senate's president pro tempore, a largely symbolic post reserved for the longest-serving member of the Senate's majority party. That puts him third in line of presidential succession after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
He was hospitalized May 15 for an infection. His stint in the hospital was extended when he developed a more severe infection, but he was recently released.