COLUMBUS -- Rep. Rex Damschroder (R., Fremont) fought back tears Tuesday as he returned to the Ohio House floor for the first time since suffering a heart attack and undergoing quadruple bypass surgery.
"It's been a very trying last five weeks," the 61-year-old lawmaker told his colleagues. "I'm back up. I'm vertical. I'm glad to be here. Hopefully, when it's all done, I'll be a little bit better."
He briefly choked up as the thanked his colleagues for their well wishes and was met with applause. His wife, Rhonda, won a standing ovation as Mr. Damschroder thanked her for turning nurse to aid him after working 30 years as a kindergarten teacher.
Mr. Damschroder, who recently returned to the House after an eight-year, term-limits-induced absence, suffered a heart attack March 21. He underwent a quadruple bypass and valve replacement at Toledo Hospital and was released in early April.
"I have only a minor ability to comprehend what you went through," House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R., Medina) told him. "I know that kind of thing saves our lives without any question, and we're just so happy that you're back. … We love you, my friend."
Mr. Damschroder represents the 81st District, which includes all of Sandusky County, a southern strip of Ottawa County, and western Seneca County.
He returned just as the chamber prepares to cast a vote on a two-year, $55.6 billion budget that would take effect July 1. Democrats took advantage of the warm words about Mr. Damschroder and praise for the military for the killing Osama bin Laden to call for greater bipartisan cooperation in the chamber.