In a dramatic return to Capitol Hill less than a year after suffering a stroke, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) climbed the stairs of the Senate Thursday as most of his colleagues watched and cheered.

Shortly after 11:30 a.m., Kirk emerged from an SUV parked by the Senate carriage entrance of the Capitol and walked over to the main staircase, where he was greeted by Vice President Biden, his fellow Illinois senator, Dick Durbin (D) and close friend, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.).

"Welcome back, man!" Biden said as a crowd of hundreds cheered.