Sixth Term 1989–1994
“We must stand with pride and without apology for the great unfinished cause of civil rights.”
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
- The most important disability rights legislation in American history, the Americans with Disabilities Act sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and co-sponsored by Senator Kennedy, Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) and others, provided broad protection against bias in public accommodations and employment for people with disabilities. The law also required accessible transportation and telephone services for those with speech or hearing impairments.
- Immigration Act of 1990
- Sponsored by Senator Kennedy, the Immigration Act of 1990 increased legal immigration levels to the United States, particularly for those adversely affected by the 1965 Immigration law and for skilled laborers. The Act also established a new system with a specified number of visas to promote diversity in immigration.
- Standing Against the Gulf War
- Under the administration of President George H.W. Bush, Senator Kennedy stood alongside 46 of his Senate colleagues to vote against the use of force in the Persian Gulf War. The vote was 52—47 in favor.
- Family & Medical Leave Act of 1993
- After a decade of fighting for a Family and Medical Leave Act, Senator Kennedy worked with the bill’s lead sponsor, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), to finally get it passed and in front of President Clinton for signing in 1993. The Act was the first that President Clinton signed into law. It allowed employees to take unpaid leave to care for a sick family member, their own illness, or a newborn, without fearing loss of employment.
- National Health Insurance and the Clinton Administration
- As Chairman of the Labor and Human Resources Committee responsible for health legislation, Senator Kennedy continued his fight for quality health care for all Americans.He worked closely with the Clinton Administration to develop a national health insurance plan. While a number of Senate committees developed their own plans, no consensus emerged behind any single plan. When a modified plan finally emerged, it lacked the votes needed for the new proposal. When the Republicans won control of the House and Senate in the midterm elections, no national health insurance legislation was voted on in Congress.
- Momentum for Peace in Northern Ireland
- Beginning in 1970, Senator Kennedy was a vocal advocate for the withdrawal of British troops and the advancement of peace and reconciliation efforts in Northern Ireland. Working with his sister Jean Kennedy Smith, the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Senator Kennedy helped secure a visa for Northern Ireland politician Gerry Adams for a trip to the US that the Senator believed could encourage an IRA cease-fire. Adams’ trip was a pivotal moment, leading to an IRA historic cease-fire agreement in August of 1994 and catalyzing the peace process in Northern Ireland.