Tales from the Trail

Kirk follows in Kennedy’s footsteps on healthcare, without the roar

If Ted Kennedy were alive, he would have been proud.

He also would have likely been counting votes.

And even raising his thunderous voice.

IRAQ-USA/CONGRESSOn Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Kennedy’s temporary replacement in the U.S. Senate echoed the fallen lawmaker’s call for Democrats and Republicans to work together and finally overhaul the U.S. healthcare system.

In his first Senate speech since being sworn in last month, Paul Kirk said: “Of all the issues on which he led the Senate and our nation, the one Ted Kennedy called the cause of his life was the battle for affordable, quality health care.”

“After decades of falling short of the mark … (it) is at long last within reach,” said Kirk, who was appointed by the Massachusetts governor to fill Kennedy’s seat until a successor can be elected in a special election in January. Kennedy died of brain cancer in August.

During nearly a half century in the Senate, Kennedy was known as the “Liberal Lion” who roared in pushing legislation to help the needy.

Kirk, a former chairman of the Democratic party, did not roar. Instead, he spoke softly, almost in a monotone. But like Kennedy, he made his case.

Kennedy successor joins Senate, takes up health reform battle

Former Democratic Party Chairman Paul Kirk has a few months in his new job to help accomplish what his friend, the late Senator Edward Kennedy, devoted much of his life to: Trying to provide affordable healthcare to all Americans.

Kirk was sworn in on Friday to take the Senate seat held for 47 years by Kennedy, his party’s liberal lion and leading advocate for healthcare reform.

KENNEDY-SEAT/The ascension of Kirk again gives Democrats, provided they stick together, the 60 votes needed in the 100-member Senate to clear Republican procedural roadblocks.