Ninth Term 2007–2009
“There is a new wave of change all around us, and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination—not merely victory for our Party, but renewal for our nation.”
- New Government in Ireland
- Senator Kennedy attended the Stormont ceremony for the opening of the new, power-sharing government in Northern Ireland. Parties that had engaged in violent conflict with each other for decades were now sitting together to form a new government. This development was the culmination of many years of work on behalf of the peace process in Northern Ireland.
- Breaking the Medicare Filibuster in 2008
- In July of 2008, Senator Kennedy interrupted his own cancer treatment to make a surprise visit to Capitol Hill. He cast his vote on the Senate floor and helped to break an attempted Republican filibuster of a bill to reverse cuts to Medicare.
- Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act of 2008
- Long-term efforts by Senator Kennedy to afford mental health the same coverage as physical illnesses were realized in the enactment of legislation that required insurance companies that provide mental health benefits to make them no different from other medical benefits with similar co-pays, deductibles, and limits. Senator Kennedy introduced the bill in the Senate alongside Sens. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Mike Enzi (R-WY); his son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), was one of the chief House sponsors.
- Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
- Senator Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama for president in January 2008 and was diagnosed with a brain tumor in May. The Senator re-energized his efforts to enact health care reform in anticipation of an Obama win. Senator Kennedy’s staff for the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held countless meetings with representatives from constituency groups and major stakeholders. The committee members marked up the first version of the health reform bill that would be signed into law by President Obama. Senator Kennedy’s was the first committee in Congress to draft legislation that would provide quality, affordable health care for all Americans and enshrine a patients’ bill of rights into law.
- Tobacco Control Act of 2009
- Senator Kennedy’s efforts to regulate tobacco, dating back to the 1980s, reached fruition when Congress passed this Act by wide margins, giving the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products for the first time in history. The legislation was regarded as a key lever in reducing cigarette smoking in the United States.
- Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act
- President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, increasing opportunities for national and community service by Americans of all ages. The legislation reformed the national service laws, expanding volunteer opportunities, social innovation efforts, and community engagement.