Sen. Edward M. Kennedy had a hand in nearly every piece of health care legislation that moved through Congress during his eight-term Senate tenure. He died Tuesday night of brain cancer at age 77.
Kennedy had hoped to be at the center of this year’s debate over a landmark bill remaking the American health care system. Even after suffering a seizure on Inauguration Day, he again returned to work. He took part in early legislative skirmishes on behalf of the new president — whose nomination for the White House he had given a boost with an early endorsement. But as his illness advanced, Kennedy was unable to take the gavel when the Senate committee he chaired took up the bill in June.
“Health care reform is a defining issue for our society,’ Kennedy told fellow senators during a debate. ‘Do we really care about our fellow citizens?’ It was a question he asked countless times, in one form or another, during his long Senate career in which he worked to bring health care to every American.
“Congress will make Kennedy’s unfulfilled goal his legacy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, predicted in a statement early today.’Ted Kennedy’s dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration'”