Long Senate record made Kennedy a giant in his own right
For decades, most major pieces of social legislation – from healthcare to immigration to education – bore the imprint of Sen. Edward 'Ted' Kennedy, who died late Tuesday.
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“Ted Kennedy, with all of his ideological verbosity and idealism, was a rare person who at times could put aside differences and look for common solutions,” said Senator Hatch in a statement Wednesday. "Not many got to see that side of him, but as peers and colleagues we were able to share some of those moments.”Skip to next paragraph
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With former Sen. Pete Domenici (R) of New Mexico, Kennedy capped a 10-year effort with the 2008 Mental Health Parity Act, which for the first time requires insurance companies to cover mental illness on a par with physical illness.
Kennedy told biographers that the biggest mistake of his public life was not working with President Nixon on healthcare in the early 1970s, when Nixon proposed universal coverage. At the time, Kennedy was a front-runner for the presidency in 1980 and thought that waiting might get the nation a better bill.
While Kennedy would lead polls for the Democratic presidential nomination for decades, his prospects took a hit after he fled the scene of an accident on a bridge in Chappaquiddick in 1969, leaving a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, to drown.
After losing the 1980 Democratic presidential primary to Jimmy Carter, Kennedy refocused on his energies on the Senate. On Aug. 13, President Obama dubbed Kennedy an “agent of change,” as he awarded him, in absentia, the Medal of Freedom.
"An important chapter in our history has come to an end,” said President Obama said in a written statement. “Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States senator of our time.
“For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts."
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