Eighth Term 2001–2006

“And today, we stand together as brothers and sisters to shape America’s destiny—old Americans, future Americans—all joined together for the common good.”
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No Child Left Behind
Senator Kennedy worked with the Bush administration to pass No Child Left Behind. He believed the legislation showed promise for holding schools accountable for the education of all children, regardless of their background. It mirrored successful school reform programs in Massachusetts. The law was quickly caught in the crossfire created by an increase in student testing imposed both by states and the legislation itself.


Opposes War in Iraq
Alongside Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), Senator Kennedy led opposition to the Bush administration’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. At the time Senator Kennedy was part of a small Senate minority: almost all of Congress supported the war in Iraq as it came soon after the September 11 attacks.


Criticisms of Bush Administration
Senator Kennedy stood as a vocal critic of many Bush administration policies, that he viewed as a violation of civil liberties, including the treatment of detainees in Iraq and the war on terror. In 2005, he voted against short-term Patriot Act extensions for wiretaps without a judicial warrant.


Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Senators Kennedy and John McCain (R-AZ) worked with the White House to create an immigration bill that tightened border patrols and established a temporary visa and legalization program. The bipartisan legislation cleared the Senate, but faced strong opposition in the House over the Senate’s provision for providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country. The House GOP favored a bill more focused on border enforcement. In 2007, Senator Kennedy worked alongside Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) to revive the immigration bill, agreeing to shift to a visa system that evaluated candidates based on job skills, education, and language proficiency, but the bill died in the Senate.


Universal Health Care in Massachusetts
Supporting the work of elected officials, business and community leaders across the state, Senator Kennedy helped to pass universal health care in the Commonwealth. Governor Mitt Romney signed the bill into law in 2006. By 2010, the Act enabled over 98% of Massachusetts residents to gain access to health insurance. This successful program became a model for the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama in 2009.