Hensarling: Kennedy legacy shouldn't drive health bill vote

While Americans should honor the legacy of the Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Republicans won't allow healthcare reform to proceed in the late senator's honor, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said Wednesday.

"Certainly people honor Sen. Ted Kennedy for all of his work," Hensarling, a top House Republican, said during an appearance on CNBC. "But at the end of the day, this is a democracy, and I think the voice of the people have been heard quite loudly in the month of August."

Lawmakers have already invoked Kennedy's memory in the right over healthcare reform that's been stalled in Congress.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) said that health reform legislation should bear Kennedy's name, while other lawmakers and groups have made a similar push.

"I would hope that this would cause individuals -- especially on the Senate side, as well as us in the House -- to sit down like never before to try to make sure that we pass a bill in a bipartisan way, and do it in short order," Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) said this morning, appearing alongside Hensarling on CNBC. "I think that would be a fitting tribute to Sen. Edward Kennedy."

Hensarling, a former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, dismissed those appeals.

"I don't believe that's in the cards if anybody's listening to the American people, regardless of people's leadership, legacy, or passions," he said. "I hope that at the end of the day, people vote their conscience and their principles."

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