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Long Senate record made Kennedy a giant in his own right

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“When I did my first sabbatical in the Senate, I was told anything Kennedy did would get 30 votes, out of respect for this brothers and the Kennedy family name, but would never get a majority,” says Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. “That’s no longer the case. He became a maker of majorities with the most unlikely partners."

With Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah, a leading conservative, Kennedy moved some of America’s most important health legislation through the Senate Labor Committee (now the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee), including a landmark bill to ensure healthcare for poor children.

“Ted Kennedy, with all of his ideological verbosity and idealism, was a rare person who at times could put aside differences and look for common solutions,” said Senator Hatch in a statement Wednesday. "Not many got to see that side of him, but as peers and colleagues we were able to share some of those moments.”

With former Sen. Pete Domenici (R) of New Mexico, Kennedy capped a 10-year effort with the 2008 Mental Health Parity Act, which for the first time requires insurance companies to cover mental illness on a par with physical illness.

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