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.