FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) — A spokesman for the outgoing speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates said the 74-year-old is “making tremendous progress” following his emergency heart surgery. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Saturday that William J. Howell is expected to move out of the intensive care unit over the weekend. Spokesman Matthew Moran said Howell is “awake, talking with family, and most importantly, making everyone laugh again.”

Howell had emergency surgery Tuesday at a Fredericksburg hospital after suffering chest pains. The Republican announced in February that he would retire after 30 years in the House. He served as speaker for the past 15 years. He will end his career as the second-longest-serving House speaker in state history. House Republicans plan to elect Del. M. Kirkland Cox as the new speaker when the legislature convenes Wednesday