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Senators Vow to Carry On Kennedy’s Fight for Health Care Reform

Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D) colleagues took to the airwaves Sunday to remember the late Massachusetts Senator, emphasizing their determination to push forward his top legislative priority, health care reform.“We don’t have the luxury here of sitting back and sort of engaging and wallowing in our own grief. We got to get up and get moving,— Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union,— later adding: “We’ve got to roll up our sleeves and go to work and do what Teddy would’ve done and get this health care matter behind us.—Dodd, who is the No. 2 Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and managed the panel while Kennedy battled brain cancer, said his friend “would be terribly disappointed if we allowed partisan politics to dominate this debate.—But while both Democrats and Republicans have called for bipartisan negotiations in the wake of Kennedy’s death, disagreements remain on major aspects of reform. For one: whether the final bill should include a public insurance option.On “State of the Union,— Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) expressed doubt that a public plan would get the support of enough Republicans and questioned whether another Democrat would be able to pick up Kennedy’s ability to negotiate across the aisle.Kennedy, he said, “really almost controlled the base of the Democratic party. They knew he was the leading liberal and if he said ‘This is what we have to do to do it,’ they’d cough and sputter and then say ”Well, I guess if he wants to do it this way, we’ve got to do it.’—On ABC’s “This Week,— Hatch added, “If he was here, I don’t think we’d be in the mess we’re in now— over health care reform.Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) also noted Kennedy’s “uncanny instinct for the ebb and flow of politics.—“He really knew how to approach his colleagues,— Kerry said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.— “He knew when the moment was right.—But Kerry said the Senate had “countless people— who would carry on Kennedy’s efforts for health care reform.“The cause endures, the fight goes on and we’re going continue to fight,— he said.And appearing with Hatch on “This Week,— Kerry challenged the Republicans to take action.“Who is the Republican, who are the Republicans plural, who are willing to step up and get this done?— he asked.Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.

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