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Kennedy, conservatives had joint cause
The list of bipartisan bills brokered by Mr. Kennedy is long. He joined with Mr. Dole, who was Senate minority leader, to pass the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act of 1989. The two shared a personal as well as a professional bond Mr. Dole’s leg was severely injured in World War II, and Mr. Kennedy’s son, Teddy Jr., had his leg amputated because of bone cancer.
Mr. Kennedy collaborated with Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, Kansas Republican, on a law to allow workers to transfer their health insurance when moving to a new job. The Massachusetts liberal worked with Mr. Hatch of Utah on children’s health care coverage and for the Ryan White AIDS law.
He teamed up with Sen. Pete Domenici, New Mexico Republican, last year to pass the Mental Health Parity Act, which requires insurance plans to treat mental health patients on a par with those who have physical ailments.
“Even battling his cancer, he would travel to the Capitol to move that legislation forward when I asked him to,” said Mr. Domenici, who has a daughter with an atypical schizophrenia diagnosis.
“I always knew from our earliest interaction that I could trust his word, that he would dedicate himself with all his energy to any cause that he championed, and that he was willing to work for compromise to get the legislative work done,” he said.
To the great dismay of his party, Mr. Kennedy even joined with President George W. Bush to pass two of the Republican’s top agenda items a prescription drug plan and the No Child Left Behind Act although Mr. Kennedy would go on to criticize the Republican administration’s implementation of aspects of both laws.
Click here to see a timeline of Mr. Kennedy’s life.
Mr. Bush and his father were among a vast stream of conservative and Republican figures Wednesday honoring Mr. Kennedy’s life and mourning his passing.
“While we didn’t see eye to eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service,” said former President George H.W. Bush, noting that his presidential library selected the Massachusetts Democrat for an excellence in public service award in 2003.
Still, Mr. Kennedy had his enemies, and he did not shy away from partisan warfare at times.
In 1987, he led the opposition to President Reagan’s nomination of Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court, a confirmation battle that would have a profound effect on future Supreme Court fights. “In Robert Bork’s America,” Mr. Kennedy said, “there is no room at the inn for blacks and no place in the Constitution for women and, in our America, there should be no seat on the Supreme Court for Robert Bork.”
He opposed an early Republican attempt to overhaul welfare, fought Mr. Bush’s tax cut plan and voted against the Iraq war.
Still, Republicans who have worked with him said he was an honest negotiating partner, but one who would not compromise his values.
“Ted Kennedy was at once the most partisan and the most constructive” senator who “could preach the party line as well as bridge differences better than any Democrat,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican.
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