Kennedy a ‘man of great passion’

Published 1:56 am Wednesday, September 2, 2009

By Staff
Jo Bonner
U.S. Representative
Last week, Edward Moore Kennedy lost his battle with brain cancer.
Sen. Kennedy served for almost half a century in the United States Senate. He was one of only six senators in U.S. history to serve more than 40 years. He was elected to eight full terms to become the second-most senior senator after West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd.
He served as chairman of the Judiciary and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committees and was the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary and Armed Services committees during periods when Republicans were the Senate’s majority party.
Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, Ted Kennedy evoked strong emotions. I think everyone can agree that he was a man of great passion — whether it was fighting for the less fortunate or for universal healthcare. 
Sen. Kennedy played major roles in passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.
Sen. Kennedy was known for crossing the political aisle to find common ground with colleagues.  Adam Clymer, Sen. Kennedy’s biographer said, “there was never a piece of legislation that he ever got passed without a major Republican ally.”
Whether or not you agreed with his political views, Sen. Kennedy was respected for being a man of great passion, a man of great philosophy, and a believer that America’s best days are ahead.
As the country’s focus begins to turn from Sen. Kennedy’s life to his legacy, the future of healthcare reform — a longtime legislative goal of the senator’s — remains.  As you well know, the issue of healthcare reform has been a major part of the debate throughout the country over the last several months.
In our own town hall meetings throughout the First District just a couple of weeks ago, the number one issue of those who attended the meetings was healthcare reform. 
In the wake of Sen. Kennedy’s death, many leaders of the Democratic Party immediately began invoking his name to revive President Obama’s attempt to ram universal healthcare legislation through Congress.
Instead of using his death to advance an extreme policy agenda — of more government spending and more bureaucratic control over decisions which should be made by patients and their doctors — I would hope that in honor of Sen. Kennedy’s legacy the president and the Democratic leaders in Congress will work in a spirit of bipartisanship to lower the temperature of rhetoric in an honest effort to get things done on behalf of the American people.