Kennedy Death Places Leadership Question Mark On Health Care Reform
NPR: "It was perhaps his biggest legislative disappointment that he hadn't managed to realize the goal of providing health insurance for every American. But along the way, he left a major mark on the nation's health care system" (Rovner, 8/26).
CongressDaily: "...some congressional leaders and others suggested [health care reform] be passed as a tribute to the lawmaker, but others said his absence will make that more difficult (Noyes, 8/26).
The Washington Post: "As Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's death suddenly quieted the national debate over health-care reform, some Democratic lawmakers suggested Wednesday that the passing of such a prominent advocate for universal health coverage may represent an opportunity to hit the reset button on that issue. But whether that would improve the odds of passing a health-care bill was much less clear. Leading Republican senators hinted that no Democrat seemed ready to assume Kennedy's traditional role both in crafting a political compromise and in selling it to the Democratic base" (Murray, 8/27).
The New York Times: "It seemed unlikely that Republicans would suddenly soften their firm opposition in the aftermath of Mr. Kennedy's death or that Democrats would relent on their push for substantial change, especially for a government-run insurance plan, which Mr. Kennedy endorsed."
The Times continues: "But Democrats and others said the senator's death should provide at least a temporary respite from the angry denunciations that flowed this summer. ... One advocacy group opposed to the Democratic proposals, Conservatives for Patients' Rights, announced that it was suspending its advertising out of respect for the senator and his family. With only 59 seats, the Democrats are one short of the number they need to overcome procedural tactics that prevent a vote; if they face a filibuster, the leadership would have to hold its own members together and attract at least one Republican supporter beyond that. The White House declined to comment Wednesday about what impact - if any - Mr. Kennedy's death would have on the health care debate" (Hulse and Seelye, 8/26).
The Associated Press reports that some lawmakers hope his passing will save the legislation: "Some hope to rescue the embattled legislation as his legacy. It's not clear that the post-Kennedy Senate includes anyone with the credibility among ideological opponents, the dealmaking skills or the inside knowledge to strike a quick agreement" (Kellman, 8/26).
NPR in a second story: "Labor groups, including the Service Employees International Union, the nation's largest, were among organizations that were quick to seize upon the senator's death to urge Congress to pass overhaul legislation in his honor" (Halloran, 8/26).
Roll Call reports that Democrats hope it swings the momentum toward their side on reform: "Democratic leaders, riled the past two months by intraparty feuds over the direction of health care legislation, were hoping Wednesday that Kennedy's death would bring wayward Democrats back into the fold and encourage Republicans to soften their near-unanimous opposition. Kennedy, long a champion of health care reform, was the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee" (Drucker, 8/26).
But in a second Roll Call story, others questioned how much it will really change things: "Capitol Hill observers on both sides of the aisle suggested Wednesday that Kennedy's death won't have much of an effect on the health care debate as it stands today. But some indicated that had Kennedy been healthy and fully involved in the overhaul effort earlier this year, things may have been different" (Drucker, 8/26).
The Los Angeles Times: "Kennedy's death is the latest in a series of events that have dealt setbacks to Obama's standing and his healthcare initiative. Lawmakers' summer town meetings have been marked by protests of his healthcare agenda and other expansions of government power. Recent polls show a decline in Obama's public support" (Hook and Oliphant, 8/27).
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