Ted Kennedy to Address Convention

In what can only be described as a serious morale boost to the Democratic Party as it continues to come together for the fall, it appears that Ted Kennedy will give a speech at the convention tomorrow night.

In a development that is sure to bring the house down, US Senator Edward M. Kennedy is expected to attend the Democratic National Convention, most likely to deliver a speech tomorrow night.

Kennedy is battling brain cancer, and his doctors are said to be worried that his treatment has compromised his immune system and that attending the convention could put him at further risk. Still, the senator has recently told people that he has a speech written for the convention and that he badly wants to come, pending a final medical consultation.

Buzz has built among Massachusetts politicos that Kennedy would come, and today a source close to the family confirmed that he had made a decision to come.

``He is definitely planning to be here,'' said the Kennedy family confidant. ``The whole Kennedy family will be in a special section. It should be quite moment.''

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/poli ticalintelligence/2008/08/kennedy_to_add r_1.html

I expect that he will remind all of us about the ideals and history that make our party great, as well as what is at stake in the present election.  With any luck, he will be in sufficient health to attend the convention and help ensure that we are on the right track through November.

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Why 60 Votes Matters: A Case Study on Today's Medicare Vote

We have had an ongoing debate on the virtue of pursuing 60 seats in the United States Senate, whether that number really matters or if it is just an excuse for not getting things done. This afternoon, just within the past few minutes, we have seen a clear reason why 60 votes matters.

A couple weeks ago, the Senate voted on legislation that would stave off greater than a 10 percent cut to doctors providing service to Medicare patients, as well as certain veterans. Although the measure passed overwhelmingly in the House -- to the tune of 355 to 59, with most Republicans voting in favor of the measure -- Republicans in the Senate decided to filibuster the bill leaving it a single vote short of attaining cloture.

Harry Reid subsequently switched his "yes" vote to a "no" in order to preserve the option of bringing the bill back to the floor for another vote -- a prerogative he made use of this afternoon. And just a few minutes ago, Senator Ted Kennedy, who has not been back to the Senate since he underwent brain surgery, made his triumphant return to the chamber to provide the Medicare bill its 60th supporter in the House.

Immediately thereafter, nine GOP Senators, all of whom had been to that point steadfastly in opposition to the bill -- even in the face of a strong push from the Democrats and a super strong push from the AMA, which has been an overwhelming supporter of the GOP in years past -- switched their position on the legislation. All of the sudden, as a result of getting a 60th vote, the bill went from having 59 to 39 support in the Senate to having 69 to 30 support -- more than enough to override a threatened veto from President Bush (assuming those Senators vote the same on an override vote as they did on the cloture vote). Not even a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney to lobby Senate Republicans could stem this movement.

This is exactly what the power of 60 is and why it is so important to strive for 60 Democratic Senators in the 111th Congress. It is why we at MyDD have set up our Road to 60 Act Blue page raising money for the candidates who will help tear down John Ensign's 41-seat firewall. When a bill or an amendment has enough support to sustain a filibuster, it is much easier for the minority party to keep in line. But once the majority can get to 60 votes -- a task made all the much more easy if the party has 60 seats, or close to it (even if not all of the members vote together on a particular issue) -- Senators in the minority are much more free to vote their conscience (or at least as the political winds are blowing) with the majority.

This is not always the case, and it will not always be the case. Having 60 Democratic Senators come January would not necessarily mean that the war would end immediately, or that universal healthcare would be easily achieved. But as you can see with today's vote on Medicare payments to doctors, 60 votes matters -- and even getting one more voice on the path to that goal can make all the difference in the world.

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Breaking: Kennedy Returns to the Senate for Medicare Vote; Cloture Passes 69-30

From The Hill:

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) returned to the Senate Wednesday to cast the decisive vote on stalled Medicare legislation, making his first appearance in the chamber since he was diagnosed two months ago with brain cancer.

Huzzah for the bill, huzzah for Senator Reid's refusal to cave to the Republicans, and a triple huzzah for Senator Kennedy's strength and health!

Update [2008-7-9 17:13:21 by Jonathan Singer]: I'll be putting up some extended thoughts on the vote in a few minutes, but for those who haven't yet had a chance to see it, Think Progress has posted video of Kennedy's very emotional return to the Senate.

Update [2008-7-9 17:19:21 by Transplanted Texan]: The cloture vote was 69-30, so quite a number of Republicans flipped. The roll call vote is now available on Senate.gov. First Read has Kenendy's statement:

I return to the Senate today to keep a promise to our senior citizens -- and that's to protect Medicare. Win, lose or draw, I wanted to be here. I wasn't going to take the chance that my vote could make the difference. Medicare should not be a partisan issue. Illness and age know no party boundaries. The 44 million Americans who rely on Medicare to meet their health care needs are both Democrats and Republicans. Like all Americans, they have worked hard all their lives. They've raised their families. They've built our towns and cities and farmed the land. They've served in our military.

We owe them so much for the part they have played in making America a great country. So today I proudly cast this important vote for them -- a vote to keep the Medicare program strong and effective for the future.

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Prompt Care Clinics Could Save Money on Health Care

I read today that Senator Ted Kennedy's office is working on Barack Obama's universal health care policy.  Well, I have an idea to suggest.

One way for Senator Barack Obama and the Democratic Party to help save American's money for their health care, is by making sure that each city has at least one prompt care clinic for patients to go to, for non-major emergency health issues like kids ear aches, rashes, chest colds, sinus infections, cuts, broken fingers or toes, etc...

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Good News: Kennedy Surgery "Successful"

Yes, that's right: Ted Kennedy, who underwent brain surgery today to remove a tumor from his brain, is now out of surgery and doing well.  His doctors say that the surgery was successful at removing a large portion of the tumor and are predicting that he will have no neurological damage from the surgery.  Although Kennedy isn't out of the woods yet--it is impossible to fully remove a glioma with surgery alone, and he'll be starting chemo soon--there certainly seems to be a cause for optimism!

As for the good Senator himself, he was in high spirits: "I feel like a million bucks. I think I'll do that again tomorrow."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080602/ap_o n_go_co/kennedy_cancer

I know this is a short diary, but I figured that after all the gloomy eulogies for Kennedy when the news about his cancer broke, people would appreciate the update and the reminder that the "liberal lion" ain't dead yet!  

Get well soon, Sen. Kennedy.

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