From left: US President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, former senator Edward William Brooke, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, listen to the national anthem during the Congressional Gold Medal presentation ceremony for Brooke October 28, 2009 in the Rotunda of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Brooke was the first African American to be elected to the Senate by popular vote.
At a Capitol ceremony honoring him, the 90-year-old Massachusetts Republican addressed a multitude of issues on Congress' plate in addition to health care: overseas wars, restoring the economy and providing Americans with adequate housing.
"We've got to get together," Brooke said, turning his eyes to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "We have no alternative. There's nothing left. It's time for politics to be put aside on the back burner."