Thursday, December 24, 2009

USA Today: Kennedy's name invoked during Senate vote

By USA TODAY's Congress Team

Kennedy's name invoked during Senate vote

When he cast his vote in favor of the health care bill, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., said: "This is for my friend, Ted Kennedy. Aye." Later, when Senate leaders gathered outside the chamber to speak to the media after the vote, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., talked about how he wished Kennedy was on hand for the vote.

Kennedy, who died in August, was chairman of the Senate health committee and a champion of universal health care. He introduced the health committee's version of the bill before he died and Dodd took over the committee.

At the Democratic convention in Denver, Kennedy made a speech in failing health and declared that he would work with a new Democratic administration on "decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege."

"This is the cause of my life," he said in his speech.

After the Senate passed the bill 60-39 today, USA TODAY's Kathy Kiely reports that Kennedy's widow, Vicki, was on hand and accepted congratulations from senators.

Kiely said that the senator's widow talked about how emotional she got during the vote and was particularly touched when Byrd dedicated his vote to the late senator.

"That's when the spigots really opened," she said."

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