Senator Edward M. Kennedy has represented Massachusetts in the United States Senate for forty-three years. Throughout his career, Kennedy has fought for issues that benefit the citizens of Massachusetts and the nation. His effort to make quality health care accessible and affordable to every American is a battle that Kennedy has been waging ever since he arrived in the Senate. In addition, Kennedy is active on a wide range of other issues, including education reform and immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, defending the rights of workers and their families, strengthening civil rights, assisting individuals with disabilities, fighting for cleaner water and cleaner air, and protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare.
Hometown: Hyannis Port
Born: February 22, 1932; Boston, Mass.
Family: Wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy; three children (Kara, Edward Jr., and Patrick Kennedy), two stepchildren (and Curran and Caroline Raclin), and four grandchildren.
Current residence: Hyannis Port, MA.
Senator Kennedy was elected in 1962 to finish the final two years of the Senate term of his brother, Senator John F. Kennedy, who was elected President in 1960. Since then, Kennedy has been re-elected to seven full terms, and is now the second most senior member of the Senate.
1964 Senator Kennedy made his maiden speech on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was signed on July 2, 1964, and the Senator strongly supported the Economic Opportunity Act, which was signed on August 20, 1964. The EOA stated that programs would be "developed, conducted and administered with the maximum feasible participation and the residents of the areas and members of the groups served." It also established community action programs, including ABCD, to mobilize resources that could be used in a direct attack on the roots of poverty
1966 Senator Kennedy, through an amendment to the Economic Opportunity Act, created a national health center system. In1966, the nation's first comprehensive neighborhood health center was established by Tufts
Harvard U., B.A. 1956 (government); International Law School, The Hague (The Netherlands), attended 1958; U. of Virginia, LL.B. 1959
Last Congress, I worked with Senator Frist to pass a bioterrorism bill. As the anthrax attacks of 2001 made clear, bioterrorism poses a great threat to the United States. Our bill strengthened hospitals, public health agencies & laboratories across the country, and increased the level of food safety. It is important that we make sure to continue strengthening our public health infrastructure. We must also work to implement common sense and workable program for smallpox vaccination.
Source: Candidate Website (10/07/2006)
No Senator has done more to invest in America's working families than Senator Kennedy. He fought for passage of the Workforce Investment Act, which provides community-based, comprehensive training opportunities for job seekers. He has fought for increased training opportunities at the old Fort Devens site and at Malden Mills. He has long been a champion of raising the minimum wage to make sure that working families can keep pace with the increasing costs of living.
Work and Family
In addition, the spirit of September 11th calls for policies that not only help working men and women earn a decent living, but ensure them time to meet their obligations to their families and their communities.
We must stop asking parents to solve the work-family
As the economy recovers slowly, tough times have fallen on too many workers. More than 8 and a half million workers are unemployed and many are falling through the cracks of the unemployment insurance system. Thanks to strong Democratic leadership, we have twice extended unemployment benefits for those unable to find jobs in the tough economy. Yet, the opposition would not agree to cover the one million Americans who have run out of all of their state and federal benefits and who remain unemployed. In addition, many low-wage and part-time workers remain without benefits because of outdated eligibility requirements. Benefit levels are too low to keep families out of poverty. And workers who've paid into the unemployment system are running out
Health and Safety
More than thirty years after the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, far too many workers are still being hurt or killed on the job. When the Occupational Safety and Health Administration focuses on tougher enforcement and standard-setting, real improvements in injury rates have been achieved. Unfortunately, the current Administration has rolled-back worker protections for ergonomic injuries and diminished enforcement activity. Millions of injured workers have their lives shattered and their careers destroyed just for doing their job well.
The leading cause of workplace injuries in the United States are ergonomic hazards. Each year, America's workers suffer 1.8 million ergonomic injuries, many of which could
Massachusetts has led the nation in an unprecedented period of economic growth and prosperity, and I have fought for investments in our infrastructure, our technology base, and our people to enhance and expand opportunities for working families. As we enter the next century, I am working to build upon our past success and make sure that no one is left behind.
Economic development is a critical component to our continued prosperity, and I have fought for federal support for projects across Massachusetts. From industrial parks in Pittsfield, Gloucester, and Fitchburg to the new Quincy Shipyard, I have helped foster the creation of small businesses and jobs in every corner of the state. Senator Kennedy has also obtained historic appropriations
One of our top priorities in the 109th Congress and beyond is to see that America has the best public schools in the world. We must continue to stand up for a commitment to quality education for our citizens from birth through college -- as a cornerstone of America's common purpose. Today, this is America's common problem. While school and college populations are surging, the shortage of trained teachers is worsening, as is the shortage of child care workers. For 27 years, the federal government has failed to live up to the pledge of full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. And now it is also time to make No Child Left Behind a reality, by providing the resources necessary for the reforms promised in the act. It is time to make education a genuine national priority -- to invest in more training for teachers, more after-school activities, and smaller class sizes, not larger ones. And more accountability for results means more investment is needed, not less.
"No Child Left Behind" Should Mean What It Says
Leaving no child behind means providing a quality teacher in every classroom; it meansproviding the resources necessary to make real improvement in schools that are not makingthe grade; and it means closing the achievement gap between children from wealthy familiesand children from low- and middle-income families. This year, Democrats tried to remedy the President's underfunding of the No Child Left Behind Act by proposing an amendment to the budget that would have increased funding by $8.6 billion.
The Democratic plan would have:
Provided the resources to improve training for 200,000 teachers and hire an additional 100,000 teachers;
Funded after-school care for an additional 1.4 million children; and
Helped improve over 25,000 schools that are not making adequate progress.
To achieve this, we must start by putting a qualified teacher in every classroom. Given the challenges of increasing teacher retirements and record-breaking school enrollments, we must recruit and train hundreds of thousands of new qualified teachers in the coming years. At the same time, to maximize student potential, we must work to reduce class size -- especially in the early grades -- so every child can get the attention and instruction they need to develop and prosper.
In order to provide the setting for world-class students and teachers, we must immediately provide greater resources to repair, expand and modernize our nation's crumbling school buildings and turn them into first-rate educational facilities. We simply cannot expect 21st
Finally, for too long, the doors of higher education have been closed to too many because they cannot afford the cost. And this year and next double-digit tuition increases and tight education budgets in the states will make it harder to realize the hope of a college education.
Just as Social Security is a promise to senior citizens, we should make "Education Security" a promise to every young American. If you work hard, if you finish high school, if you are admitted to a college, we should guarantee that you can afford the cost of the four years it takes to earn a degree. Surely, we have reached a stage in America where we can say it and mean it - cost should never again be a disqualification for college.
Fulfilling that pledge will require
Head Start is one of the great success stories in American education. Over the past four decades, it has helped millions of low-income children enter elementary school healthier, better able to communicate with others, more interested in books, and ready to learn.
Unfortunately, only 60 percent of children eligible for Head Start are receiving services, and only 3 percent of children eligible for Early Head Start are getting services.
Last year, Democrats fought to expand Head Start enrollment, and we also fought to expand Early Head Start to serve more than 100,000 infants and toddlers in need.
In addition, Democrats want to provide more help to working parents by increasing the number of children who are able to participate in full-time programs instead of part-time programs.
Fully Funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or special education
Democrats are committed to fulfilling our obligation to ensure a free and appropriate public education for all children with disabilities. To accomplish that, we need to fully fund the IDEA at the level Congress promised when it enacted the program.
Promoting Trade and Exports
* Fought for creation of Boston Export Assistance Center
* Supported the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program
* Promoted opportunities for increased export of Massachusetts products
We also must fight to preserve and improve Medicare, so that America's workers will enjoy the secure and happy retirement they've worked hard for all their lives. If Medicare is to remain financially sound for the 21st century, we need to take strong action now to control costs, maintain affordability, and strengthen and improve benefits. The President and Congressional Republicans are advancing token plans that do not merit the Medicare label and would not pass a truth-in-advertising test. The President's budget for prescription drugs and Medicare reform, combined, would cover only about ten cents on the dollar of the prescription drug costs of the elderly. The House Republican plan offers only meager and inadequate benefits. It would force senior citizens into unreliable pharmaceutical HMOs as the price of obtaining any benefits at all, and it creates perverse incentives for employers to drop the solid prescription drug coverage they now provide.
There is no issue more important to the well-being of American families than access to high quality, affordable health care. While our ultimate goal remains universal health security for every American citizen, we can and will take smaller steps along the way to bring us closer to that goal.
Yet, forty one million Americans now have no health insurance at all. Over the course of a year, 30 million more will lack coverage for an extended period. It is unacceptable that any American is uninsured. It is shameful that forty-one million Americans are uninsured. And it is intolerable that the number of uninsured is now rising again and, if we do nothing, could reach more than 52 million by the end of the decade.
Quality, affordable health insurance
We also need to strengthen our commitment to ensuring that all Americans have access to quality care. Last Congress, I introduced the Family Care Act of 2001. This important piece of legislation provided funding to states to improve enrollment of children in Medicaid and CHIP, expands coverage to parents of children in CHIP, gives states the options to cover vulnerable populations like legal immigrants, and gives grants for innovative approaches to covering the uninsured. Clearly, Family Care is the next reasonable step to take in ensuring that low-income parents and children have peace of mind and know that there is somewhere they can turn for the health care they need.
Another of our highest priorities is providing access to affordable, high-quality mental health services. For too long, those who suffer from mental illness have suffered needlessly. The stigma and discrimination against those with mental disorders prevents so many from receiving the treatments that could help them lead happy and productive lives. It is time for change. Along with the late Senator Paul Wellstone, and Senator Pete Domenici, I was an original co-sponsor of the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act, which provides full parity for all mental illnesses by prohibiting insurance companies from imposing unfair treatment or financial requirements for mental health services. Senator Domenici and I intend to introduce this bill again,
* Worked to obtain support through SBA to help small businesses address the Y2K computer problem
* Fought for increased funding in the Small Business Innovation Research Program; MA is now second in the nation in SBIR awards
* Acquired support for a revolving loan fund for the Cape and the Islands to assist small business growth for Native Americans
We also need to fight for fair wages for all Americans. In the last four years, the cost of housing has gone up 44 percent, college tuition is up 35 percent, and the cost of health insurance is up 59 percent. That's a struggle for any family, but for minimum wage workers, it's nearly impossible. A minimum wage employee who works full-time, 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, earns only $10,700 a year -- not enough to keep a single parent with children above the poverty line. Millions of minimum wage workers work hard, play by the rules, and barely scrape by. They're forced to make impossible choices every day -- between paying rent and buying groceries, between paying the heating bill and buying clothes or going to the doctor.
The fundamental right of workers to associate freely and join together to form a union is under threat today. One in every four employers unlawfully fires workers when they try to form a union. Far too often, workers are threatened and intimidated when they seek to exercise their fundamental rights in the workplace. Once workers demonstrate their support for forming a union, they face enormous obstacles in getting a first contract because too many employers refuse to bargain in good-faith. I am working hard to ensure that the rights of all workers are respected in the workplace because America's workers deserve a chance to create a better life for their families.
Unions make a big difference in the lives of America's workers. Union workers
I've proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour -- 70 cents now, 70 more cents a year from now, and another 70 cents a year after that. These modest increases will add $4,400 to the income of full-time, year-round workers. That's enough for a low-income family of three to afford a year of groceries, a year and a half of heat and electricity, more than nine months of rent, or the full two-year tuition for a community college degree. Raising the minimum wage will enable millions of hard-working Americans to afford a decent home and a better quality of life. No one who works for a living should have to live in povertyEqual Pay
All workers deserve the opportunity to receive fair pay for their work. Yet even today, women earn
Obtained highest transportation appropriation in history for Third Tunnel/Artery project
Obtained funding to dredge riverways for Massachusetts ports
Acquired resources to develop Union Station's in Worcester and Springfield
Obtained support for intermodal transportation facilities in Gloucester, Lowell, Westfield, and Pittsfield
Obtained funding for high-speed rail linking Boston and New York
Obtained funding for a range of other transportation infrastructure projects
For months, we have been ready to roll up our sleeves and get back to work on the PATRIOT Act, but the White House has continued to block bipartisan efforts to improve the original bill and accept oversight of its intrusive surveillance programs. Again, and again, the Administration has refused to join in serious negotiations with Republican and Democrats on matters of national security, including the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretaps and the FBI's use of National Security Letters. The latest proposal offers improvements, and deserves to pass; however, it is unacceptable and undemocratic that further amendments could not even be considered.
We need to implement these improvements quickly given the Administration's disregard of
* Obtained federal support for senior citizen housing statewide
* Supported revolving loan programs to create new housing units
* Obtained support for new housing unites for persons with AIDS
A particularly urgent problem is the need to provide prescription drug coverage under Medicare. Prescription drugs represent the largest source of out-of-pocket medical costs for senior citizens. Medicare beneficiaries fill an average of eighteen prescriptions a year, and the average senior citizen takes an average of four to six prescription drugs a day. Costs of $100 a month or more are not uncommon. With tremendous medical breakthroughs looming on the horizon, many of the miracle cures of the future will be based on new, effective, but very costly prescription drugs. Senior citizens must have affordable access to these cures.
One other part of the problem is the mushrooming cost of prescription drugs. One powerful engine to control costs is competition from generic drugs. Generic drugs account for 42% of all prescriptions, but account for only 8% of drug spending. When a generic competitor to a brand name drug is available, it typically cuts the cost to the consumer by half or more. But in recent years, some drug companies have manipulated the law to keep generic competitors off the market long after their patents have expired.
It is time to close the loopholes that allow drug companies to exploit patients by blocking generic competition. It is time to regulate direct-to-consumer advertising more effectively, to assure that the freedom recently granted companies
No government program reflects the values of the American people better than Social Security. We are a community that takes care of our most vulnerable members: the elderly, the disabled, and children whose parents have died prematurely. Two out of every three retirees receive over one-half of their income from Social Security. Without that guaranteed monthly benefit check, most of them would be living in poverty. Social Security does much more than provide retirement income for seniors. It also provides lifetime disability insurance protecting those who become seriously injured or ill. When a worker becomes disabled before reaching retirement age, Social Security is there to help him and his family. And when a worker dies leaving minor children,
The greatest threat to Social Security's survival is the danger posed by privatization schemes, not the retirement of the baby boomers. While the ratio of workers to retirees is changing, the impact of that shift can be fully addressed without abandoning the guaranteed lifetime benefit commitment which is at the heart of the program. The more serious threat is posed by those who would dismantle Social Security in the guise of saving it. The Bush Administration is waging a relentless campaign of half-truths and false alarms designed to convince the public that Social Security as we know it is on the verge of bankruptcy and cannot be sustained. They know that the only way to sell their deeply flawed privatization plan is to convince people that
We must protect the pensions and retirement savings of all workers. The recent shocking abuses of corporate power, including those that occurred at Enron and WorldCom, have left thousands of workers high and dry and made retirement security a compelling issue for the 47 million American workers who have invested their retirement savings in individual 401(k) accounts. These debacles reveal a crisis of corporate values, and demonstrate the urgency of reforming 401(k) plans, which have become the bedrock of America's retirement system.
That's why I introduced legislation in the last Congress that will offer workers real protections for their retirement savings. My bill penalizes corporate executives and accounting firms who mislead workers and
* Worked to achieve passage of the FDA Modernization Act, streamlining the process to bring new treatments for life-threatening disease to market and improving effectiveness of regulatory process
* Worked to achieve administrative improvements in operation of the FDA
We also need to take urgent action against our country's leading cause of preventable death-smoking. Cigarettes kill over 400,000 Americans each year and generate $75 billion a year in avoidable health care costs. Last year, Senator Mike DeWine and I introduced legislation to give the FDA the authority it needs to reduce cigarette smoking by preventing tobacco advertising which targets children, to prevent the sale of tobacco products to minors, to help smokers overcome their addiction, and to prevent the tobacco industry from misleading the public about the dangers of smoking. It is time to tell these modern-day merchants of death that the American people will no longer tolerate the carnage they cause.