US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed on Wednesday to push through American health reform this year following the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, a leading advocate of the plans.
"Ted Kennedy's dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration," Pelosi said in a statement.
President Barack Obama's sweeping health reform plan, the top domestic priority of his administration, has met with stiff opposition amid doubts there is sufficient support in Congress for the public option he is pursuing.
Pelosi, one of Obama's top Democratic allies, was reminding Americans that reforming the health care system was a cause dear to the heart of Kennedy, who died late Tuesday after losing a long battle with brain cancer.
"Sadly, Senator Kennedy left us exactly one year after he inspired the nation with his speech of optimism, vitality, and courage at the Convention in Denver," she said.
Kennedy made a poignant farewell appearance at the Democratic National convention a year ago in Denver to endorse Obama, reprising his famous 1980 speech after his own failed presidential campaign.
"Today, with the passing of Senator Edward M Kennedy, the American people have lost a great patriot, and the Kennedy family has lost a beloved patriarch," Pelosi said.
"Over a lifetime of leadership, Senator Kennedy's statesmanship and political prowess produced a wealth of accomplishment that has improved opportunity for every American."