Kennedy's Legacy: A Long List of Legislative Achievements

The late Sen. Edward Kennedy is credited with several legislative efforts, most notably in the fields of civil rights, welfare and education. He was key to passing Head Start as part of the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act, the centerpiece of the War on Poverty. Kennedy fought for Title IX equal access for women and more student aid for GIs . 

He proposed increases in minimum wage, championed the Family and Medical Leave Act, shepherded the No Child Left Behind Act, led the fight for passage of hate crimes legislation and sought protections against discrimination for gays and women.

He supported nuclear reduction treaties, enlisted labor unions and backed unrestricted access to abortion even in late term and for teens crossing state lines. 

He is ranked a liberal 95 percent of the time, according to the Almanac of American Politics, and a conservative 0 percent of the time. He received 100 percent ratings from Americans for Democratic Action, the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees and the League of Conservation Voters.

Click here for a a list of the senator's accomplishments from his Web site.

The following is a list of legislation molded in whole or part by Kennedy:

1964: Head Start

-- Provided meals and early education to pre-school children through the Employee Opportunity Act.

1965: Hart-Cellar Act: 

-- Changed immigration policy to abolish quotas and lift a 1924 ban on immigration from Asia.

1968: Bilingual Education Act

-- Mandated for schools to provide bilingual education programs.

1970: Voting Age

-- Lowered the age to vote to 18.

1971: Federal Cancer Research Program 

-- Quadrupled the amount of money spent by the federal government to fight cancer.

1972: Meals on Wheels

-- Strengthened the federal program offering nutritional meals to homebound seniors.

1972: WIC

-- Offered food, nutrition counseling and health services to low-income women, infants, and children.

1972: Title IX

-- Demanded equal funding for men's and women's athletics on college campuses.

1974: Campaign Finance

-- Imposed limits on contributions to political candidates and set up a public financing option, post-Watergate.

1975: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

-- Guaranteed free and appropriate public education to children with disabilities.

1978: Civil Rights Commission Act Amendments

-- Expanded the jurisdiction of the Civil Rights Commission to protect people from discrimination on the basis of disability.

1978: Airline Deregulation

-- Allowed airlines to choose their own fares, reducing costs for consumers.

1980: Refugee Act

-- Established a U.S. policy for providing humanitarian assistance, admission and resettlement to refugees around the world.

1981: Fuel Assistance

-- Provided home heating fuel for low-income and working poor families.

1983: Martin Luther King Day 

-- Established a national holiday to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday.

1984: Improved Access to Polling Stations

-- Required polling stations to provide physical accessibility for physically disabled and elderly people on federal election days.

1986: Employment Opportunities for Disabled Americans Act

-- Allowed disabled workers to receive SSI benefits and Medicaid coverage.

1986: Anti-Apartheid Sanctions

-- Banned the purchase of gold, coal, iron, and other goods from South Africa to protest apartheid.

1987: Even Start

-- Offered early education, family literacy and related services to disadvantaged parents and their children.

1988: Fair Housing Act Amendments

-- Prohibited discrimination towards people with disabilities in the sale or rental of housing.

1989: National Military Child Care Act

-- Established the Department of Defense child care system.

1990: Americans with Disabilities Act

-- Prohibited discrimination against any qualified individual with a disability in job application procedures, hiring or discharge, compensation, advancement and training.

1990: Ryan White CARE Act

-- Provided assistance to states to develop effective and cost-efficient AIDS care programs, aimed particularly at early diagnosis and home care.

1991: Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty

-- Halved the world's nuclear arsenal through cooperation with the U.S.S.R.

1991: Women in Combat

-- Lifted the ban on women serving as combat aviators.

1992: Summer Jobs for Youth Program

-- Appropriated $500 million to give 300,000 youth with summer employment.

1992: Mammography Quality Standards Act

-- Ensured the safety and accuracy of mammograms and promoted the use of the procedure

1993: National and Community Service Trust Act

-- Created AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service to help expand volunteerism and education grants for students who choose to volunteer for service after college.

1993: Student Loans

-- Allowed students to borrow money for college directly from the federal government.

1994: Family and Medical Leave Act

-- Provided up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family emergencies or after the birth of infants.

1994: Crime Act

-- Secured funding for 100,000 new police officers, imposed new penalties for crimes involving gangs and firearms and authorized the Police Corps, a program to award college scholarships to students in return for a commitment to serve as police officers.

1996: Kennedy-Kassebaum Act

-- Enabled employees to keep health insurance after leaving their job and prohibited insurance companies from refusing to renew coverage on the basis of preexisting medical conditions.

1996: Mental Health Parity Bill 

-- Eliminated limits on mental health coverage that differ from other covered illnesses.

1996: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Act

-- Established Welfare-to-Work Initiatives to reduce the number of families dependent on government assistance.

1996/2007: Minimum Wage

-- Increased the minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.15 in 1996, and then again from $5.15 in 2007 to $7.25 by 2009.

1997: State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) 

-- Supported state efforts to provide health insurance to uninsured children in low-income families.

2000: Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act

-- Improved data systems and research on the extent and severity of minority health problems, and authorized significant resources to help enhance the delivery of health care to minorities.

2000 Public Health Threats and Emergencies Act

-- Introduced initiatives to control the spread of germs resistant to antibiotics, and to protect the country against bioterrorism.

2001: No Child Left Behind Act 

-- Required more rigorous testing of public school students and permitted parents to transfer their children from low-performing to higher-performing schools.

2002: Bioterrorism Preparedness Act

-- Established plan to help the country prevent, prepare for and respond to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies.

2002: Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act

-- Expanded the country's intelligence and law enforcement capabilities to help identify individuals who have violated visas or have links to terrorist organizations.

2003: Up-Armored Humvees

-- Provided funding for additional armor for military vehicles to meet the safety needs of American troops.

2003: PROTECT Act

-- Provided funding for AMBER Alert notification systems along U.S. highways and awarded grants to states for the implementation of improved communication technologies.

2005: Gulf Coast Recovery and Preparedness Act

-- Provided emergency funding to assist in the recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

2006: Family Opportunity Act

-- Provided states the opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage to children with special needs and allowed low- and middle-income families with disabled children the ability to purchase coverage under the Medicaid program.