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Kennedy Interim Senator Paul Kirk and Health Care Reform

By Neetal Parekh on September 24, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Two-time Harvard graduate and longtime Kennedy aide, Paul Kirk, has been chosen to stand in late Senator Kennedy's place as Massachusetts Senator.  The interim role is thought to help Democrats reach the critical mass of 60 votes-- the threshold needed to further the health care reform bill by ending debate on the floor.  However, considering the hesitancy of moderate Democrats concerning the current health care reform measures, soon-to-be Senator Kirk's vote may not be the deciding one.

And you may be wondering, who exactly is Paul Kirk?

Paul Kirk first became affiliated with Senator Kennedy in 1969, when he assumed role as special assistant-- a role he would continue and expand for eight years.  As an attorney residing in Boston, he continued his involvement in the Democratic Party in the 1980's, serving as member, treasurer, and culminating as chairman-- from 1985-1989.

Paul Kirk has become a staple of the Democratic Party and has supported nonpartisan civic engagement, even helping found the Commission on Presidential Debates in 1987 to engender civil discourse among presidential candidates on issues of national concern.

Moving from the Lobby to the Main Floor

Paul Kirk's strong background in politics has not escaped some scintilla of concern.  He was a registered lobbyist in the past, having connections to pharmaceutical and health insurance firms.  As part of assuming a Senate seat, Kirk will refrain from lobbying activities for two years past his term.

Health care reform and Senator Kirk

Kirk has showed strong support for Senator Kennedy's ideals and goals.  In fact MoneyLine reported that the Senator designate has donated over $65,000 to federal campaigns, with the majority of the funding going to the Kennedys.

The new appointment provides clarity and direction on how the voice of Senator Kennedy will be carried forth; however, it cannot provide any definitive idea on the fate of health care reform in the Senate.  Senator Kirk, welcome.  And the debate on health care will continue.

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