That's My Congress: an independent voice on congressional campaigns and legislation

Senator Edward Kennedy
Democrat of Massachusetts
Progressive Rating: 18/100
Conservative Rating: 0/100

portrait of Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Senator Kennedy's mailing address: 317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(all mail delayed at least 2 weeks)

Web page, Web-based contact form

DC Office Phone: 202-224-4543
MA Office Phone: 617-565-3170

Progressive Action: support for legislation in the promotion of freedom, knowledge and security. Freedom is achieved when constitutional protections are respected and when people are treated with equality under law. Knowledge is pursued through rigorous support for science and education. Security comes from the protection of environmental resources, the strengthening of economic opportunity for people and the preservation of peace from erosion by wasteful, destructive militarism.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy's Progressive Action Score: 18

A score of 18 means that Sen. Kennedy has positively acted to support 18% of a slate of progressive policies in the 111th Congress.

The following are positive progressive actions taken by Senator Kennedy during the 111th Congress:

S. 1584

To a person only following expressions of popular culture, it might seem that the United States has moved beyond discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transexuals. But in the workaday world, it's still legal for people to be fired from their jobs for no other reason than than their choice of whom to love. And a dirty not-so-secret secret of labor unions has been their historical practice of excluding gay and lesbian workers from full participation and leadership.

ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009, would make workplace discrimination in hiring and promotions illegal, and would also prohibit discriminatory behavior against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members of American labor unions. If passed, ENDA would bring the law into the 21st Century along with the majority of Americans who have realized what matters at work is what you do, not who you love.

Senator Kennedy has acted progressively by cosponsoring this bill.


S. 416

The problem with cluster bombs is threefold:

1. When used, they are distributed in large numbers across terrain;
2. They have a high failure rate, leaving many unexploded bombs;
3. They are small and typically shiny, disproportionately attracting the hands of curious children.

Cluster bombs are designed to kill people, not to damage buildings or roads. Like land mines, they continue to kill people long after the battle in which they were used. It is typical for a large number of these smaller bombs to remain undetonated, waiting to explode, after their initial deployment.

The Federation of American Scientists' report on the matter makes clear the danger of cluster munitions: "40 percent of the duds on the ground are hazardous and for each encounter with an unexploded submunition there is a 13 percent probability of detonation. Thus, even though an unexploded submunition is run over, kicked, stepped on, or otherwise disturbed, and did not detonate, it is not safe. Handling the unexploded submunition may eventually result in arming and subsequent detonation." Cluster bombs kill civilians when they are used. Our government knows this, and yet our government continues to manufacture, use and sell cluster bombs to foreign countries. The Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2009 forbids the United States government from spending money to use, sell or transfer cluster bombs unless the following requirements are met:
  • The cluster bombs are proven to have a 1 percent or lower rate of malfunction
  • The cluster bombs will not be used against anything but a clearly defined military target, in an area where there are no civilians and in places where civilians do not ordinarily live
  • A plan is submitted, with the costs included, for cleaning up all the undetonated explosives that come from cluster bombs, whether they are used by the US military, or by other countries to whom the United States has supplied the cluster bombs


There is a waiver in the law for the first requirement (for the malfunctioning rate of 1 percent or lower), in cases in which it is "vital" to use cluster bombs in order to protect the security of the United States. However, even in such cases, the President is required to submit a report to Congress which explains how civilians will be protected from the cluster bombs, and revealing the failure rate of the cluster bombs, as well as whether the cluster bombs are equipped with self-destruct functions.

The Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act is not a perfect bill, but it is a big improvement over the deadly status quo.

Senator Kennedy has acted progressively by cosponsoring this bill.


There are some bills on the progressive agenda to which Senator Kennedy has not yet added his support.

Call Your Senator to urge that he cosponsor these pending bills:


S. 173

In the effort to rescue our oceans from chemical and biological disaster, the date is already late. Elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide resulting from human activities have already increased the acidity of the oceans to such an extent that animals like shellfish and corals are having a difficult time creating their shells and skeletons. Other ocean animals are experiencing disruptions in their reproductive behavior and general physiological functions as a result of the increased acidity.

UNESCO's Monaco Declaration of scientists following on their meeting for the 2nd International Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 world declares:

"Ocean acidification is accelerating and severe damages are imminent.... Since industrialization began in the 18th century, surface-ocean acidity has increased by 30%. This ongoing ocean acidification is decreasing the ability of many marine organisms to build their shells and skeletal structure. Increasing acidity and related changes in seawater chemistry also affect reproduction, behaviour, and general physiological functions of some marine organisms, such as oysters, sea urchins, and squid." We donít see clear, boldfaced warnings like these very often, and when we do, we ought to pay attention to them. And as the report points out, an acified ocean is an ocean that decimates the marine life on which a significant portion of the world depends for food and commerce. That makes ocean acidification an economic as well as an environmental issue.

In the Senate, Frank Lautenberg has introduced S.173, the Federal Ocean Acidification Research And Monitoring Act. This legislation would establish and support a regime of empirical research and monitoring of ocean acidification under the auspices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with the purpose of developing specific strategies for mitigation of ecological impact.

Read S. 173, then call Senator Kennedy at 617-565-3170 and ask him to support it by adding cosponsorship.


S. 206

Research demonstrates the effectiveness of public Pre-Kindergarten education in improving literacy and mathematics competency among children of a variety of economic and social backgrounds in the short and long term. Early intellectual skill development is crucial in determining the life chances of an individual child, and the potential for accomplishment of a generation of children. Not only to increase individual outcomes but to promote the general welfare, S. 206 would create a series of grants to state governments with the purpose of broadening and enriching Pre-K programs for all children.

Read S. 206, then call Senator Kennedy at 617-565-3170 and ask him to support it by adding cosponsorship.


S. 212

The Farallon Islands are an uninhabited group of islands -- uninhabited by humans, that is. The Gulf of the Farallones is a sanctuary for marine birds, is a gathering point for marine mammals, and is host to a wide variety of ocean life due to the shallow depth of the water immediately surrounding it.

In short, the Farallon Island area is a biological treasure. It has value beyond its stark beauty as a biological bank, maintaining fisheries that sustain commerce as well. S. 212 is a bill before the Congress that would expand the boundaries of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, not just to protect this area for wildlife, but also to strengthen the long-term security of the Pacific fishing industry.

Read S. 212, then call Senator Kennedy at 617-565-3170 and ask him to support it by adding cosponsorship.


S. 424

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. Nor shall any State deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. These are the American standards of nondiscrimination, chiseled into our legal bedrock in the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. How seriously do members of Congress take this section of the U.S. Constitution? S. 424 is a test.

S. 424, the Uniting American Families Act, is a bill which aims to put into closer compliance with the U.S. Constitution by removing discrimination according to the status of permanent couples. According to law, same-sex couples in permanent relationships cannot marry; only different-sex couples can. The creates two classes of couple in the United States. They are separate. Are they equal? Not currently. Under current immigration law, married immigrant spouses of citizens and permanent residents have a preferred route toward gaining permanent resident status themselves. Unmarried partners of citizens and permanent residents have this avenue closed to them. That is unequal treatment under law for immigrants under American jurisdiction, and it is an unequal abridgment of legal privilege for the citizens whose permanent partners wish to join them.

Introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy, the Uniting American Families Act would end this status discrimination by amending various the immigration laws that discriminate against same-sex couples when one member of a couple is a citizen or permanent resident and the other is seeking citizenship or residency status.

Read S. 424, then call Senator Kennedy at 617-565-3170 and ask him to support it by adding cosponsorship.




Regressive Action: a pattern of legislative behavior that erodes freedom, knowledge and security. When constitutional protections are disregarded, when discrimination under law is fostered, when the pursuit of knowledge is abandoned and science overruled, when wealth for a few matters more than prosperity for all, and when "Yeehaw" is the most articulate expression of foreign policy, our nation is headed in a direction that is not only morally wrong but self-destructive.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy's Regressive Action Score: 0

A score of 0 means that Sen. Kennedy, through voting or cosponsorship, has pushed forward 0% of a slate of regressive policies in the 111th Congress.

We are happy to report that Senator Kennedy hasn't lent his support to any of the slate of legislation we have identified as regressive.
Recent legislative news in which Edward Kennedy plays a part:

Why Do We Need No Bid Contracts In Homeland Security?
I don't agree with most of the things that Tom Coburn does in the U.S. Senate, but an amendment offered by Senator Coburn seems to have made a lot of sense to me. The amendment,... [more]

Democratic Base Furious At Senators for Abandoning Filibuster
Yesterday, senators John Kerry and Edward Kennedy began an effort to filibuster a final vote on the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. However, they were unable to muster a majority to support the filibuster, as many Senate Democrats... [more]



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