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Originally published Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 2:12 PM

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Lautenberg returns to Senate for gun votes

Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey has returned to the Senate after being absent for more than six weeks.

Associated Press

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WASHINGTON —

Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey has returned to the Senate after being absent for more than six weeks.

The nation's oldest senator, 89, was in a wheelchair on Wednesday as he cast his first vote since Feb. 28 to a smattering of applause from fellow Democrats.

He has been sidelined with pain and weakness in his legs after a bout with the flu and bronchitis in late December and January. His doctor had advised him not to travel in recent weeks as he worked to rebuild his strength.

A longtime advocate of gun control, Lautenberg returned to Washington for a key series of votes, including on a proposal to expand background checks of gun purchases.

Lautenberg said in February he would retire next year and not seek re-election.

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