The Death of Ted Kennedy Could Block Obama's Health Care Reform...

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 08/26/2009 - 11:40pm.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House, vowed that legislation to insure every American, which Mr Kennedy had described as "the cause of my life", would be achieved.

"Ted Kennedy's dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration," she said in a statement.

But procedural rules in the Senate mean Mr Kennedy's absence could be crucial when a vote is held.

The Democrats hold 60 seats in the 100-seat upper chamber, but without Mr Kennedy, they may not be able muster the 60 votes required to prevent a filibuster of legislation - when Republican opponents could talk the bill off the clock.

Under Massachusetts law, it will be five months before a by-election is held to replace him, although Mr Obama and Democrats in Congress had hoped to have legislation completed well before Christmas.

Mr Kennedy addressed the issue in a letter to Massachusetts leaders last week, asking them to change the state's law to allow the governor to appoint an interim senator "should a vacancy occur".

But despite the respect for his career and reputation, there has been little sign of an appetite to follow what amounted to a dying wish.

Mr Obama's health plan, the top domestic priority of his administration, has met with stiff public and political opposition amid concerns over the costs and the proposed increased role of government in providing care.

As the president's effort has faltered in the past weeks, leading Republicans in the Senate have said that Mr Kennedy's absence was acutely felt in the health negotiations because of his long track record of achieving compromise on major legislation.

Alex Spillius - August 26, 2009 - source TelegraphUK

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 08/26/2009 - 11:40pm.