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Ky. congressman arrives on gurney for House vote

Rep. William Natcher, the 84-year-old Kentucky Democrat, was wheeled onto the House floor on a gurney Wednesday to cast his 18,398th vote.

Natcher, who came to the Capitol from Bethesda Naval Hospital about 11:45 a.m., is fighting to hold onto his unbroken voting record, which started when he came to Congress 40 years ago.

As aides wheeled him onto the floor, he raised his hand feebly at reporters gathered to watch him. Hooked up to an oxygen tank and an intravenous tube, he looked thin and pale. He was dressed in a suit and tie and his head was propped up on a pillow.

Natcher cast his vote on a routine procedural matter using a green card with his signature on it. He was surrounded by fellow members on the House floor, and shook hands with House Speaker Thomas Foley before he was wheeled out.

He voted three more times before returning to the hospital. His total vote count at the end of the day was 18,401.

Between votes, Natcher, who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, rested in the committee's office across the hall from the House floor.

On Tuesday, House leaders suspended all legislative action out of courtesy to Natcher, who was undergoing treatment at the hospital.