Sen. Kirk's colleagues express concern, solidarity

January 24, 2012 6:58:46 PM PST
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's colleagues wished him a speedy recovery as they prepared to attend Pres. Obama's State of the Union address.

"Well, just the thought of him being in a wheelchair, I mean that's just overpowering," said Rep. Don Manzullo, (R) Rockford.

Manzullo is still stunned. He cannot envision his former House colleague unable to move around the capital on his own.

The senator's physician said Monday the 52-year-old Kirk would likely lose function on his left side but that none of his abilities to read, speak or reason would be affected.

"This is a time for people of faith to be praying for Sen. Kirk and for his full and complete recovery," said Peter Roskam, (R) Wheaton.

Congressman Roskam is confident Kirk will recover and finish his term as Illinois highest elected Republican official and that despite the loss of one of its U.S. senators, Illinois will continue to be served.

"His office has very quickly rallied. They've communicated with all the congressional offices in terms of making sure that constituents' needs are met," said Roskam.

"He will have to adjust to a new normal," said South Side Congressman Bobby Rush.

Rush is living the struggle that lies ahead for Sen. Kirk. Beginning three years ago, 10-term congressman Rush missed eight months of work in Washington as he underwent treatment for salivary gland cancer. He is in remission but says he pays closer attention to his body and goes about his work in a more focused way.

"I think it's made me a much better congressman. Much more sensitive. Because you live each day as though it's your last day," Rush said.

Statement from the Family of Senator Mark Kirk

"We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we've received over the last couple of days -- from President Obama, Leader McConnell, Senator Durbin, Governor Quinn, Mayor Emanuel, the Illinois delegation and so many others across the state, the nation and beyond. Words cannot describe how much Joe Manchin's friendship and support means to us and especially to Mark. We are truly blessed to have such amazing family and friends."