Ted Kennedy's absence is being keenly felt as Senate Democrats and the White House prepare to move ahead on health care legislation without him, the Los Angeles Times reports. The senator, whom lawmakers from both sides had hoped could craft a bipartisan compromise, is being treated for a brain tumor and not expected back for another week or two; in the meantime, Connecticut's Chris Dodd is acting as his stand-in.
Kennedy—who has spent much of career fighting to improve the nation's health care system—was expected to introduce his version of the health care bill this week. He has consented to having it proceed without him, though many lawmakers fear that his continued absence could lead to political deadlock on the issue. "I'm here replacing someone who is irreplaceable," Dodd said before a meeting with President Obama this week.