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Ailing US Senator Makes First Statement Since Falling Ill

A U.S. senator whose sudden brain hemorrhage endangered the Democrats' majority in the Senate has issued his first statement since falling ill in December.

Senator Tim Johnson of the state of South Dakota released a statement Tuesday saying he is focused on his recovery and looks forward to returning to the Senate. Photos posted on his web site showed him looking notably thinner, but sitting outside, laughing with family members.

In his statement, Johnson also said "this has been an unexpected journey, and there is a long road in front of me."

Medical staff from his private rehabilitation facility are quoted as saying the senator is making significant and regular gains, and is doing very well cognitively.

Johnson became ill after the November mid-term elections that gave Democrats control over both houses of Congress. If he had died or stepped down from the job, the Senate would have been left with 50 Republican members and 50 Democratic and allied independent members. But the vice president votes if there is a tie in the Senate, so Republicans would have gained power by a Johnson departure.

Some information for this report was provided by AP .