WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 (UPI) --
Mark Kirk's welcoming committee when he returns to the U.S. Senate after a stroke includes Vice President Joe Biden and his colleague, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Kirk, R-Ill., plans to walk the 45 steps to the Capitol in Washington Thursday, the Chicago Tribune reported. Durbin will make the climb with him.
"It's going to be emotional for a lot of people," Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., said. "We've all been waiting a long time, we've been cheering him on, we've been praying for him."
Kirk, 53, suffered a stroke last January. His doctors are scheduled to hold a news conference Thursday.
Lance Trover, Kirk's communications director, said the senator will use a wheelchair in the Capitol's long hallways but can walk with a four-pronged cane. He is now living in a handicapped apartment in Washington and made a surprise appearance at a holiday party for his staff just before Christmas.
Shimkus, who first visited Kirk in an Illinois hospital in March, said he expects Kirk to be "slower-paced -- not the guy running down the hallways, not like Chatty Cathy anymore. He's going to be listening, and very deliberative."
Kirk was elected to the Senate seat formerly occupied by President Obama in 2010. He served five terms in the House.