WASHINGTON, Jan. 3, 2013 – Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., returned to the Senate today for the first time after suffering a major stroke nearly a year ago.

Kirk walked up the front steps with the assistance of Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-Va., before attending a swearing-in ceremony for new and re-elected senators.

Senate president pro tempore Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told reporters Kirk was “extremely courageous” in making the return.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was “grateful for his return.”