Today would have been Ted Kennedy's 80th birthday. The fourth-longest-serving senator in U.S. history had quite a list of achievements. Originally published August 2009 on Obit-Mag.com.
Ted Kennedy's legislative accomplishments read like a veritable history of American liberalism in the latter half of the 20th century. Here's a list of highlights.
1965: Two years after becoming a Senator at the tender age of 30, Kennedy scored his first major legislative accomplishment with the passing of the Hart-Celler Act, which abolished immigration quotas and lifted a 1924 ban on immigration from Asia.
1971: Kennedy successfully helped a bill become law that quadrupled the amount spent on cancer research establishing the Federal Cancer Research Program
1972: Through careful Senate negotiations, Kennedy helped pass Title IX, a bill that required colleges and universities to provide equal funding for men’s and women’s athletics
1974: Kennedy spearheaded an overhaul of campaign ethics rules and election finance. The bill set limits for individual contributions and established the public financing program for Presidential elections.
1983: Working for years alongside civil rights leaders, Kennedy helped push Congress to establish the Martin Luther King Day holiday. President Reagan signed it into law in 1983.
1986: After Pres. Reagan squashed a bill imposing sanctions on gold, coal and iron on South Africa’s Apartheid government, Kennedy led the Senate in a overwhelming override of the president’s veto.
1990: Kennedy sponsored The Family and Medical Leave Act, which required employers to give employees unpaid leave for the birth of a child or for family emergencies.
1996: The Kennedy-Kassebaum Act let employees keep health insurance after leaving their jobs for a set period and prohibited insurance companies to deny renewal of care due to preexisting medical conditions.
1996: Kennedy helped raise minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.15. In 2009, an ailing Kennedy helped the minimum wage be raised again from $5.15 to $7.25.
2001: Going against fellow Senate Democrats, Kennedy championed Pres. Bush’ No Child Left Behind education legislation.
Current legislation that bears Kennedy’s imprimatur include the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and of course the health care reform package that will be debated in the upcoming session of Congress.
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