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Kennedy’s Ghost

The election to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s senate seat on January 19th could determine whether healthcare legislation is passed in the Congress. “At a business forum in Boston Friday, interim Sen. Paul Kirk predicted that Congress would pass a health-care reform bill this month. ‘We want to get this resolved before President Obama’s State of the Union address in early to mid-February,’ Kirk told reporters at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast. The longtime aide and confidant of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who was handpicked by Gov.Deval Patrick after a controversial legal change to hold Kennedy’s seat, vowed to vote for the bill even if Republican state Sen. Scott Brown, who opposes the health-care reform legislation, prevails in a Jan. 19 special election. ‘Absolutely,’ Kirk said, when asked if he’d vote for the bill, even if Brown captures the seat. ‘It would be my responsibility as United States senator, representing the people and understanding Senator Kennedy’s agenda. . . . I think you’re asking me a hypothetical question but I’d be pleased to vote for the bill.’ Few have considered the Jan. 19 election as key to the fate of national health-care reform because both Kirk and front-runner state Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democratic nominee, have vowed to uphold Kennedy’s legacy and support health-care reform. But if Brown wins, the entire national health-care reform debate may hinge on when he takes over as senator. Brown has vowed to be the crucial 41st vote in the Senate that would block the bill.”
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