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Slaughter back to work with warm welcomes

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, received a warm bipartisan welcome Monday as she returned to Capitol Hill for the first time since she suffered a broken leg April 2.

Riding a motorized scooter, Slaughter arrived in the Capitol for a late-afternoon meeting of the House Rules Committee, telling reporters she just got clearance from her doctors last week for her return.

Asked how she felt, Slaughter said: "Good. I'm glad to be back."

And when she entered the Rules Committee, a sometimes adversary, Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, had nothing but good things to say.

"You look great," Sessions said. "You look wonderful."

Meanwhile, Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., expressed "the delight on our side that our ranking member is back."

Noting that Slaughter would be moving fast in her motorized scooter, McGovern presented her a horn "for the sake of our slow-walking members."

Slaughter frequently does battle with Republicans on the panel, which sets the terms of debate for legislation on the House floor.

But there was nothing but warmth and fellowship as the Rules panel meeting began Monday.

"I really missed you," Slaughter told her colleagues. "I'm proud of all of you. I love serving with you. I love being back here. It really feels like coming home."

While crossing a New York City street in April, Slaughter suffered what her doctor described as a "very severe" fracture of the left femur just above the knee and into the knee joint.

Slaughter told reporters Monday she had started standing on the leg, which remains in a brace to protect it from people who might bump into her.

She also said she regretted missing votes on the House floor since the injury and President Obama's signing of the STOCK Act, a measure Slaughter had been pushing for six years that bans insider stock trading among members of Congress.

"It's a shame to break your leg anytime," she added.

After a decade of representing parts of both Buffalo and Rochester, Slaughter, 82, faces a stiff challenge in the newly redrawn 25th Congressional District.

Slaughter's new district consists primarily of Monroe County, and her challenger is the popular Republican county executive there, Maggie Brooks.

Just last Friday, the National Republican Congressional Committee sent out a news release attacking Slaughter for missing votes on the floor of the House because of her injury.

Noting that Slaughter had held campaign fundraisers but not cast a vote since breaking her leg, NRCC spokesman Nathaniel Sillin said: "Louise Slaughter is playing politics by putting her campaign before her sworn duty to represent her constituents in Congress."

But the NRCC's chairman, Sessions, had a very different take on things as he welcomed Slaughter back to work.

Calling Slaughter "our dear friend and ranking member" and pronouncing her "not only full of spirit but also high energy," Sessions said he missed Slaughter while she was out.

"Battles are fun, but when one of the participants is out because of an injury, like in college sports, you want to see that competitor back on the field in this game also," Sessions said.