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Sen. Tim Johnson's condition improves

WASHINGTON - Sen. Tim Johnson, stricken by a stroke-like intracranial hemorrhage in December 2006, continued a much-admired recovery process April 27 by checking out of National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington. He will continue in outpatient therapies for several hours five days a week while residing with his wife, Barbara, at their Virginia home outside Washington. The South Dakota Democrat, determined as he says to ''get back in the saddle,'' hasn't altogether embraced physician advisories to pace himself and prepare for a long road ahead. He is gradually assuming a greater share of office work from his dedicated staff.

''It is wonderful to take this next step with family and friends,'' he announced, adding, ''Barbara and I talk often of the day that we will be able to head home to South Dakota and thank everyone for their love and support.''

Barbara Johnson thanked everyone for continued prayers. ''Tim is doing wonderfully and continues to impress us all. The doctors, nurses and therapists at NRH are top-notch and have helped Tim make great strides. There is more progress to make, but I'm excited to have him here for supper each night as he continues down this path.''

Frantic speculation, immediately following his affliction, about its impact on party majorities in Congress struck many in Washington's political classes as unseemly in the extreme. But with the senator's future more assured, nose-counts on upcoming crucial votes in Congress haven't left him out. Democrats enjoy a thin majority in the Senate. But they will need 60 votes to clear procedural hurdles on a host of contested bills, including a handful on Indian-specific priorities. Throughout his tenure in the House of Representatives and Senate, Johnson has been a solid rock on tribal issues, especially as they involve the nine South Dakota tribes but also on numerous national Native fronts.