Ted Kennedy Celebrates 77th Birthday

Feb 22, 2009 9:24am

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reports:

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., who turns 77 today, is scheduled to spend his birthday "celebrating with a bunch of family and close friends" in Florida, according to his spokesman, Anthony Coley.

The Lion of the Senate plans to return to Washington in two weeks for a March 8 "musical tribute" in his honor at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.

The senator returned to Washington last week to cast his vote in the Senate’s first version of the economic stimulus bill. However, Kennedy missed the final passage vote on the compromise bill.

Coley said Kennedy, longtime chair of the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, is determined to see legislation for health care reform. "He sounds as strong as I have heard him sound," said Coley.

Kennedy has been working on a health care reform bill and reportedly lobbying the White House as it considers a new nominee for the role of Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Still recuperating from a diagnosis of brain cancer in May last year, Kennedy told the New York Times that now is not the time to be preparing his eulogies. "Obviously I’ve been touched and grateful," Kennedy told the paper. "Beyond that, I don’t really plan to go away soon."

A recent health scare for the senator occurred during President Obama’s inauguration Jan. 20 when Kennedy collapsed in the U.S. Capitol during the Congressional luncheon. Doctors concluded the incident was due to fatigue.

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