The normally private Kennedy appeared on ABC’s “This Week” in her first interview since the Supreme Court’s validation of the law that the legendary senator championed.
“I think that if Teddy were here, he would tell us to roll up our sleeves … and get to work to fully implement the law,” she told host George Stephanopoulos.
She said she didn’t think her late husband would have been shocked, as many were, that Chief Justice John Roberts sided with liberal-leaning justices to uphold the law. She said he had studied the legal implications of the health-care law closely.
“He believed in it; he believed in its constitutionality,” she said. “I think he would have been pleased but not surprised.”
Kennedy called health-care reform “the cause of my life,” but he died in 2009 of brain cancer before the law was passed in 2010.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Vicki Kennedy after the Supreme Court ruling on Thursday. “Now, Teddy can rest,” Pelosi told her, according to Kennedy. She said on Sunday that she appreciated that gesture.
White House chief of staff Jacob Lew echoed Vicki Kennedy’s sentiments about moving forward in the wake of the high court’s decision. Americans “don’t want to be taken back to the old divisive debate,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” a theme he echoed in other media appearances Sunday. He said it was time to focus on implementing the law, not debating it.
But Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee and a critic of the law, signaled that the conversation was far from over, vowing that Republicans would ultimately repeal the health-care measure. The Republican-majority House plans to vote on a repeal bill, but the move will almost certainly be symbolic, since the Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to follow suit.
Ryan, also appearing on “This Week,” said the elections this year would change those dynamics. “The American people will be the judge and jury of this law come November,” he said.