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Senate Rejects President’s Health Care Plan as Key Democrats Defect

July 17, 1962 - The Senate today rejected President Kennedy’s program of health care for the aged under Social Security by a roll-call vote of 52-48. The action ended any hope for Congressional approval of such legislation at this session. President Kennedy went before television cameras an hour after the vote to express his reaction in angry terms. He called it “a most serious defeat for every American family.” He also affirmed his intention to carry the issue to the voters in the Congressional elections in November. “We have to decide in the 1962 Congressional elections whether we want to stand still or whether we want to support this kind of legislation for the benefit of the people,” he said. Defections of Southern Democrats were decisive in today’s vote; only four supported the Administration. There were two surprise defections by non-Southerners as well. One was Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia. The other was the Senate’s 84-year-old President Pro-Tempore, Carl Hayden of Arizona.


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