Edward M. Kennedy

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Ted Kennedy previously served as a Senator for Massachusetts

Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy, a Democrat, was a Senator representing Massachusetts from 1962 to his death in 2009. (map)

Record and controversies

General information about important bills and votes for can be found in Congresspedia's articles on legislation. You can add information you find on how Edward M. Kennedy voted by clicking the "[edit]" link to the right and typing it in. Remember to cite your sources!

Iraq War

Kennedy voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in Oct. 2002.

In 2003, during the debate over the FY2004 Defense Appropriation, Kennedy introduced an amendment (S.AMDT.1273) to require President Bush to report to Congress his strategy for reconstruction efforts in Iraq, humanitarian aid assistance to Iraqi citizens, and encouraging international support for the rebuilding efforts. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who referred to other Democratic calls for presidential accountability in regards to Iraq "nitpicking," effectively motioned to table (kill) the amendment.

In debating the FY2005 defense appropriations bill the following year, Sen. Kennedy introduced an amendment (S.AMDT.3377) requiring that, no later than 30 days after the bill's enactment, the president submit a public report to Congress on the strategy of the United States regarding stabilization and rebuilding in Iraq, an estimate on the number of U.S. troops that will be serving in Iraq as of December 31, 2005, and the percentage of these forces that will be members of the National Guard and Army Reserves. Supporters argued that the bill would require accountability on the part of President Bush. Opponents, however, felt as though the measure was both too burdensome and unrealistic, for it would be impossible to predict troop levels far into the future. The amendment failed 48-50.

Main article: Congressional actions on the Iraq War following the 2003 U.S. invasion

On January 9, 2007, Sen. Kennedy introduced legislation (S.233) prohibiting President Bush from committing more troops to Iraq without specific approval from Congress. Specifically, Sen. Kennedy stated, “Today I am introducing legislation to reclaim the rightful role of Congress and the people’s right to a full voice in the President’s plan to send more troops to Iraq. My bill will say that no additional troops can be sent and no additional dollars can be spent on such an escalation, unless and until Congress approves the President’s plan.”

Kennedy argued that the original mandate authorizing the Iraq War (passed by Congress in October 2002) had expired because "the mission of our armed forces today in Iraq bears no resemblance whatever to the mission authorized by Congress." He continued to explain that the Iraq War resolution "authorized a war to destroy weapons of mass destruction. But there were no WMDs to destroy. It authorized a war with Saddam Hussein. But today Saddam is no more. It authorized a war because Saddam was allied with al Qaeda. But there was no alliance."

Main article: Congressional actions regarding President Bush’s 2007 proposed troop “surge” in Iraq
For more information see the chart of U.S. Senate votes on the Iraq War.

Environmental record

For more information on environmental legislation, see the Energy and Environment Policy Portal

Alternative energy

Ted Kennedy has maintained a record in favor of alternative energy sources as seen in his voting record as a senator. [1] Some people see Kennedy's opposition to a proposed wind farm off Cape Cod, within sight of his home [2] as hypocritical or as an example of a NIMBY philosophy. Senator Kennedy did not support the interests of the American Coalition for Ethanol fuel in 2002. [3]

Executive power

In July 2006, Kennedy gave his support to a bill by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) that would allow Congress to file a lawsuit to get presidential signing statements declared unconstitutional. [4]

Seeks to block lending companies from accessing student information

On April 15, 2007, Kennedy urged the Bush administration to block student loan companies from accessing a national database that includes confidential information on tens of millions of college students. The request following a Washington Post report which exposed inappropriate searches of the database possibly in violation of federal rules. The database, called the National Student Loan Data System, contains Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, birth dates and other financial information.[1]

In a letter to Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, he stated "Until the security of the database can be ensured, I urge you to block the use of the database by private lenders."[2]

Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act

In 2007, Kennedy sponsored the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act which would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) greater authority to regulate tobacco products in an effort to assist current smokers with quitting and prevent tobacco manufacturers from enticing youth to smoke.[3]

Main article: Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (H.R. 1108) 2007


Kennedy was born February 22, 1932. He was the brother of assassinated President John F. Kennedy and former US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Because of Kennedy's personal prominence and his longtime advocacy of liberal principles, he was often regarded as a "lion" of the Democratic Party.

Family and youth

Kennedy was the youngest of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, a prominent Irish-American family. He attended Harvard College in 1950. He was forced to withdraw for two years from Harvard in May 1951 after he was allegedly caught cheating on his final examination in a Spanish class. Kennedy then entered the U.S. Army for two years and was assigned to the SHAPE headquarters in Paris. He eventually re-entered Harvard, graduating in June 1956. In 1958, he attended the Hague Academy of International Law. He earned his law degree from the University of Virginia and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1959. While he was in law school, he managed his brother John's 1958 Senate re-election campaign.

In 1962, Kennedy was elected to the Senate from Massachusetts in a special election to fill the seat left vacant by his oldest brother, John, upon the latter's election as president. He was elected to a full six-year term in 1964 and was reelected in 1970, 1976, 1982, 1988 and 2000.

Kennedy was the second-longest serving current senator, behind only Robert Byrd. In 2006, Kennedy was elected to an eighth full term (and ninth overall term). If he had served out his full six-year term, he would have served in the U.S. Senate for fifty years.

His son, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, is a seven-term congressman serving Rhode Island's 1st congressional district.

Early career

Kennedy's career in the Senate has frequently attracted national attention. During his 1962 campaign, he was accused by his opponents of riding on his family's name and fortune, and (having no previous experience in elected office) of not being sufficiently qualified to hold so high an office. Soon after entering office, he went through the trauma of the assassination of his brother John, an event that focused much attention on him.

In 1964, Kennedy was in a plane crash in which the pilot and one of Kennedy's aides were killed. He was pulled from the wreckage by fellow senator Birch Bayh (D-IN) and spent weeks in a hospital recovering from a severe back injury, a punctured lung, broken ribs, and internal bleeding.

In 1968, his last surviving brother, Robert, was assassinated during his bid to be nominated as Democratic candidate for the presidency.

In 1969, Kennedy defeated Louisiana Senator Russell B. Long to become Senate Majority Whip. He would serve as Whip until January 1971, when he was replaced by Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia.

Kennedy was a founder of the Congressional Friends of Ireland, and a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.


On July 18, 1969, after a party on Chappaquiddick Island near the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Kennedy, allegedly intoxicated, a claim which he denies, drove away with Mary Jo Kopechne as a passenger in his car. According to Kennedy, he made a wrong turn onto an unlit road that led to a wooden bridge that was angled obliquely to the road, and drove over its side, which had no guardrail. The car plunged into the water, landing upside-down. Kennedy claims he tried several times to swim down to reach her, but Kopechne died. Kennedy discussed the accident with several people, including his lawyer, before he contacted the police.

The incident quickly blossomed into a scandal. Kennedy was criticized for allegedly driving drunk, for failing to save Kopechne, for failing to summon help immediately and for contacting not the police but rather his lawyer first. Kennedy entered a plea of guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury. He received a sentence of two months in jail, which was suspended.

Presidential bid

A decade after the Chappaquiddick incident, Kennedy decided to throw his hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination in the 1980 presidential election. He launched an unusual, insurgent campaign against a sitting president, Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter. Kennedy was unafraid of criticizing the president, who was mired in the Iran hostage crisis. He did, however, vow to support Carter if he were re-nominated. Despite much early support, his bid was ultimately unsuccessful, largely due to controversy surrounding the incident at Chappaquiddick. Kennedy won 10 presidential primaries against Carter who won 24. Eventually he bowed out of the race, but delivered a rousing speech before the 1980 Democratic National Convention that many consider to be one of his finest moments.[5]

Political views

This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

  1. Amit R. Paley, "Kennedy Wants Lenders Blocked From Data," Washington Post, April 15, 2007.
  2. Amit R. Paley, "Kennedy Wants Lenders Blocked From Data," Washington Post, April 15, 2007.
  3. Kennedy, Waxman, Cornyn, and Davis introduce tobacco legislation

Tobacco issues

Sen. Kennedy has long been a supporter of public health efforts to regulate tobacco products and tobacco industry behavior.

In March 1993, Sen. Kennedy introduced S.1883, the Tobacco Product Education and Health Protection Act of 1990. The Act was sweeping in its scope and aimed at aggressively reducing the toll of death and disease caused by tobacco. As written, the Act would have established a Center for Tobacco Products to make grants to public and private organizations to conduct anti-smoking campaigns directed at minors and those in groups of highest tobacco use. Target audiences included youth, school dropouts, minorities, blue collar workers and low and no-income individuals. The Center would also have been directed to regulate tobacco additives and to inform the public of such additives and harmful tobacco smoke constituents. The Center would have been directed to underwrite a broad range of anti-smoking initiatives by private entities and state and local authorities, including anti-smoking campaigns in schools and work places, and to coordinate with film makers, broadcast media managers and others regarding the impact of media on tobacco use behavior.[6]

On March 7, 1994, Senator Kennedy spoke on ABC's "Day One" program investigating nicotine manipulation. Kennedy called on the Government Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate the manipulation of nicotine in cigarettes. Sen. Kennedy likened the tobacco industry's power and influence to that of the National Rifle Association, saying this powerful lobby has cut off all attempts to regulate and investigate it. [7]

More recently, on February 7, 2007 Kennedy co-sponsored a controversial bill to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products.[8] In an odd twist from Kennedy's past legislation to regulate tobacco, this bill was strongly supported by Philip Morris,[9] which touts its position in support of the bill on its Website, and was opposed by the American Academy of Public Health Physicians.[10] This turnabout of positions has concerned public health advocates, who feel the bill contains many loopholes that will benefit Philip Morris while putting public health at a disadvantage.

No Child Left Behind

Kennedy was a major player in the bipartisan team that wrote the controversial No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which according to both Kennedy and President Bush, was a compromise. He then worked to get it passed in a Republican-controlled Congress, despite the opposition of members from both parties.

Kennedy has since argued that the No Child Left Behind is an unfunded mandate because the President and Congress have mandated obligations upon the states without providing equivalent funds, forcing the states to spend money to comply with the federal law. Libertarians and Conservatives have had mixed reactions to the bill, on the one hand disliking the expansion of the federal government, but on the other hand favoring the school choice provisions that it sets forth.

Right to abortion

Although he has been a staunch advocate of abortion rights for the past 30 years, Kennedy only adopted this position after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land. In 1987, Kennedy delivered an impassioned speech condemning Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork as a right-wing extremist and warning that "Robert Bork's America" would be one marked by back alley abortions and other backward practices. Kennedy's strong opposition to Bork's nomination is commonly seen as a prominent factor in the Senate's rejection of Bork's candidacy. Similar concerns have been raised in more recent Supreme Court nominations, as well; it is possible that Kennedy's opposition to Bork set a precedent. In recent years, he has argued that much of the debate over abortion is a false dichotomy. Speaking at the National Press Club in 2005, he remarked, "Surely, we can all agree that abortion should be rare, and that we should do all we can to help women avoid the need to face that decision." [11]

Immigration policy

Ted Kennedy was a strong supporter of the 1965 Hart-Celler Act which dramatically changed US immigration policy. [12] "The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs." (U.S. Senate, Subcommittee on Immigration and Naturalization of the Committee on the Judiciary, Washington, D.C., Feb. 10, 1965. pp. 1-3.). Kennedy was the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Immigration, and was a strong advocate for immigrants.

Many people feel that this legislation dramatically changed the face of America society by making it a multicultural nation. Prior to the Hart-Celler Act, immigration policy was very selective and geared towards European countries. Proponents of the bill argued that immigration laws and quotas were discriminatory, and that American immigration policy should accept people not on the basis of their nationality. This also abolished the Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882.

War On Terrorism

Though a supporter of the American-led 2001 overthrow of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, Senator Kennedy was a vocal critic of the American-led 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. He has also been a harsh critic of the way the war was planned and conducted by the Bush Administration.

Of particular concern to Sen. Kennedy was the United States' treatment of the prisoners taken in the War on Terrorism. Applying standards of human rights that are available to all Americans, he believes there should be no difference between the treatment of accused terrorists and the treatment of accused criminals in the USA, such as the right to a speedy trial (or the suspect should be released), and the right to legal representation.

On September 27, 2004, Sen. Kennedy made a speech on the Senate floor regarding the war in Iraq, just prior to the 2004 U.S. Presidential election. [13]

Minimum Wage

Kennedy along with Senators Hillary Clinton, Jim Jeffords, Patrick Leahy, Tom Harkin, and Barack Obama authored the Standing with Minimum Wage Earners Act of 2006. This bill would change the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1983 by keeping the wage increase for Congressional members at the same pace as the increase of the federal minimum wage. [14] [15]


Student financial aid legislation

On January 4, 2007, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced a Senate version of a House financial aid bill (S.1642), which was co-sponsored by Senator Kennedy.

Specifically, the bill would gradually decreases the rate on subsidized federal loans until 2011, when it hits a temporary low of 3.4 percent for a six-month period. Once that period is up, the rate will revert to 6.8 percent unless future legislation dictates otherwise. “Subsidized” loans are those for which the federal government pays the interest until the student leaves school.[1] The bill would raise fees on and cut profit margins for student lenders to offset the proposed cut. An estimate by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stated that the rate cut would cost $8.1 billion over a five year period. Increased loan fees would raise $2.7 billion and reducing guaranteed lender profit margins would raise another $2.5 billion over the same period, according to CBO. The remainder of the cost would be raised by reducing lender guarantees and retaining certain guaranty agency collections.[2]

Kennedy, however, announced plans to support a broader education bill which would halve interest rates on more than just Stafford loans, raise the Pell Grant limit to $5,100, cap federal student loan payments at 15 percent of a borrower's discretionary income, forgive the debt for those who stay in public service careers, and encourage schools to use the government's Direct Loan Program. [16]

Main article: Student financial aid legislation

Political resurrection

In 1991, during the Clarence Thomas hearings, Kennedy's career reached what has been called a low ebb. Journalist Anna Quindlen wrote that he "let us down because he had to; he was muzzled by the facts of his life." The Boston Globe, editorialized that his "reputation as a womanizer made him an inappropriate and non-credible" critic of Thomas.

According to a 2002 article in The Nation by Jack Newfield, that year also appears to represent a turning point. His good friend, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch confronted him about his drinking and then he "met Vicki Reggie and ended his partying."

After his marriage in 1992, he faced a tough challenger, Mitt Romney, for re-election to the Senate in 1994. Some of Romney's supporters criticized Kennedy for statements he had made about the exclusionary policies of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in which Romney held a leadership role [17]. Kennedy defeated Romney with 58 percent of the vote. According to Newfield, Kennedy's family and friends believe that campaign "allowed him to reconnect with his reasons for believing in public service."

Newfield states that "In making the physical and emotional sacrifices necessary to win an exhausting campaign, Kennedy recovered his dedication to remain in the Senate, and he focused all his energies on the job"; he goes on to call him "the best and most effective senator of the past hundred years." "Because of his tragic experience", says Newfield, he is often found serving as "America's national grief counselor." Despite his liberal views, "The key to Kennedy's effectiveness has been his remarkable capacity to form warm, genuine friendships—more than mere working alliances—with GOP senators." [18]

2003 Winner of the George Bush Award. [19]

2006 elections

In 2006, Republicans nominated Ken Chase to face Kennedy in his November 2006 bid for reelection. (See U.S. congressional elections in 2006) [20] Kennedy retained his seat.

Health issues

On May 17, 2008, Kennedy was airlifted to a Cape Cod hospital after emergency responders first treated him at home following an apparent seizure. He spent several hours in the emergency room, before being transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital. Last year, the senator underwent surgery to unclog a partially closed artery in his neck.[3] Forty-eight hours following Kennedy's apparent seizure, doctors could not identify the cause. [4]

On May 20, doctors announced they had diagnosed Kennedy having a malignant brain tumor. A biopsy performed May 19 helped identify a glioma, which accounts for about half of the brain tumors diagnosed each year. Kennedy was released on May 21, and, accompanied by his family (including son Rep. Patrick Kennedy), left the hospital to return home. Kennedy's doctors said they would "determine his course of treatment after further testing and analysis."[5]

Money in politics

This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. <crpcontribdata>cid=N00000308&cycle=2006</crpcontribdata>

Links to more campaign contribution information for Edward M. Kennedy
from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org site.
Fundraising profile: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2006 election cycle Career totals

Committees and Affiliations


Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

More Background Data

Wikipedia also has an article on Edward M. Kennedy. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.


DC Office:
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2101
Phone: 202-224-4543
Fax: 202-224-2417
No Official Email Contact

District Office- Boston:
John F. Kennedy Federal Building, Suite 2400
Boston, MA 02203
Phone: 617-565-3170

Articles and Resources


  1. Carrie Sturrock, "Student loan interest rate cut set for vote in House today," SF Chronicle, January 17, 2007.
  2. John Godfrey, "Bush opposes Democrats' student-loan rate cut," MarketWatch, January 16, 2007.
  3. Andy Barr and Jessica Holzer, "Kennedy hospitalized, may have suffered seizure", The Hill, May 17, 2008
  4. Manu Raju, "Kennedy gets ‘warm’ phone call from Bush", The Hill, May 19, 2008
  5. Paul Kane, "Diagnosed With Tumor, Kennedy Leaves Hospital", The Washington Post, May 21, 2008



Articles & Speeches by Edward M. Kennedy

Published Works

  • "America Back on Track" (Hardcover), Viking Adult, April 18, 2006, ISBN-10: 0670037648 / ISBN-13: 978-0670037643.
  • "My Senator And Me: A Dog's Eye View Of Washington, D.C." (Hardcover), Scholastic Inc., May 1, 2006, ISBN-10: 0439650771 / ISBN-13: 978-0439650779.

Local blogs and discussion sites

Corresponding article on Wikipedia and Cause Caller. (If Cause Caller link does not work, pick from its list of senators and representatives.)

Current Office: U.S. Senate
111th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

110th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

Committees: Joint Economic Committee, Senate Committee on Armed Services, Senate Committee on Armed Services/Subcommittee on Personnel, Senate Committee on Armed Services/Subcommittee on Seapower, Senate Committee on Armed Services/Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Senate Committee on the Judiciary/Subcommittee on the Constitution Civil Rights and Property Rights, Senate Committee on the Judiciary/Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, Senate Committee on the Judiciary/Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, Senate Committee on the Judiciary/Subcommittee on Immigration Border Security and Citizenship, Senate Committee on the Judiciary/Subcommittee on Technology Terrorism and Homeland Security,
Congressional Career
First Elected to Current Office:
November 6, 1962
First Took Current Office:
November 7, 1962
Next Election:
November 6, 2012
Term Ends:
Freshman Member?
Previous Political Work?
Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney,
Other Party Membership:
District Offices:
1. John F. Kennedy Federal Building, Suite 2400, Boston, MA 02203
Phone: 617-565-3170 / Fax:

Campaign Contact:

Webform Email: / Email:

Campaign Offices:

Phone: / Fax:

Zip Code Affiliations:

Date of Birth: February 22, 1932