For backers of health care overhaul, it's TGIS: Thank goodness it's September.
August was brutal, as lawmakers faced raucous crowds denouncing Democratic plans and polls showed support for President Barack Obama and various proposals dropping fast. Now, with Congress to reconvene next Tuesday, proponents hope to change the dynamic by holding quiet, closed-door sessions with nervous Democratic lawmakers and arguing that far-reaching health care changes can be good politics as well as good policy.
They also hope GOP-led opposition has peaked. But that's far from clear, and Republicans are eager to hand Obama his first major defeat.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, laid to rest alongside his slain brothers John and Robert, was remembered as a "veritable force of nature" who worked tirelessly in the Senate for nearly five decades on the causes he cared about deeply.
Crowds lined the streets of two cities on a day that marked the end of an American political era — outside Kennedy's funeral in rainy Boston where he was eulogized by President Barack Obama, and later in humid, late-summer Washington.
Signaling a fading chance for compromise, a leading Republican negotiator on health care legislation on Saturday criticized Democratic legislative proposals as budget-busters that would reroute Medicare spending and restrict medical choices.
The criticism from Sen. Michael Enzi (right), R-Wyo., echoed that of many opponents of the Democratic plans under consideration in Congress. But Enzi's judgment was especially noteworthy because he is one of only three Republicans who have been willing to consider a bipartisan bill in the Senate.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, oft-summoned to remember departed members of his famous political family, was himself the subject of a eulogy President Barack Obama was delivering at a funeral expected to draw mourners from across the political spectrum and stations of life.
The Massachusetts Democrat, who died Tuesday at age 77 from brain cancer, was being sent off in high fashion Saturday with a Roman Catholic Mass presided over by no fewer than seven priests, 11 pallbearers and 29 honorary pallbearers.
Tenor Placido Domingo was to sing, accompanied by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Congressional Republicans lined up to denounce on principle President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus bill -- a wasteful big-government giveaway, they said. No GOP House member voted for the bill and only three Senate Republicans.
Now the Republicans are lining up again. Only this time it's to try to get a piece of some of that wasteful spending.
It is not a stretch to say that if Sen. Edward M. Kennedy had not been stricken last year with the brain cancer that ultimately took his life, President Obama would have a health-care bill, one very likely on the verge of Senate passage. He was that good a legislator.
There were very few major pieces of legislation over the last 47 years that did not bear the Massachusetts Democrat's touch, in large part because he was more than willing to work with his Republican colleagues.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's body will travel more than 70 miles from his Cape Cod home to Boston to lie in repose in a presidential library he helped develop in tribute to one of his slain brothers.
Family members will attend a private Mass at Kennedy's Hyannis Port compound at noon Thursday, and the motorcade is scheduled to leave around an hour later. It will pass sites that were significant to the senator on the way to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, where his body will lie in repose until Friday, a Senate office statement said.
In the quiet of a Capitol elevator, one of Edward M. Kennedy's fellow senators asked whether the Massachusetts senator had plans for a family Thanksgiving away from the nation's capital. No, he said shaking his head in reply, and mentioned something about visiting his brothers' gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery.
In his half-century in the public glare, Kennedy was, above all, heir to a legacy — as well as a hero to liberals, a foil to conservatives, a legislator with few peers.
Senator Edward Kennedy, a towering figure in the Democratic Party who took the helm of one of America's most fabled political families after two older brothers were assassinated, has died, his family said. He was 77.
"Edward M. Kennedy, the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply, died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port (Massachusetts)," the Kennedy family said in a statement.
Massachusetts should respectfully decline Sen. Ted Kennedy's request that the state allow for the appointment, if his seat becomes vacant, of an interim senator to fill out his term rather than hold a special election within five months of the vacancy.
In a letter to Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, he said that it was "vital" that the state have two senators rather than go five months with only one. Kennedy is gravely ill with brain cancer and mostly absent from the Senate.