Reaction Statements on the Death of Ted Kennedy
(Last updated at 3:28 p.m. ET)
Following the statements of President Obama and Vice President Biden, various statements on the passing of Ted Kennedy are listed below in categories (Senate colleagues, House members, Obama administration officials, former presidents, other politicians and advocacy groups).
President Obama this morning (watch the video):
I wanted to say a few words this morning about the passing of an extraordinary leader, Senator Edward Kennedy.
Over the past several years, I've had the honor to call Teddy a colleague, a counselor and a friend. And even though we have known this day was coming for some time now, we awaited it with no small amount of dread.
Since Teddy's diagnosis last year we've saw the courage with which he battled his illness. And while these months have no doubt been difficult for him, they've also let him hear from people in every corner of our nation and from around the world just how much he meant to all of us.
His fight has given us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you and goodbye.
The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we've all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives. His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives -- in seniors who know new dignity; in families that know new opportunity; in children who know education's promise; and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including myself.
The Kennedy name is synonymous with the Democratic Party, and at times Ted was the target of partisan campaign attacks. But in the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle.
His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer. He compassion -- passionately battled others and do so peerlessly on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear and yet still maintained warm friendships across party lines. And that's one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.
His extraordinary life on this Earth has come to an end. An (sic) extraordinary good that he did lives on.
For his family, he was a guardian. For America, he was a defender of a dream.
I spoke earlier this morning to Senator Kennedy's beloved wife, Vicki, who was to the end such a wonderful source of encouragement and strength. Our thoughts and prayers are with her; his children, Kara, Edward and Patrick; his stepchildren, Curran and Caroline; the entire Kennedy family; decades worth of his staff; the people of Massachusetts; and all Americans, who, like us, loved Ted Kennedy.
Read Biden, Sen. Robert Byrd and many more statements after the jump.
An emotional Vice President Biden, who planned to speak on a clean energy initiative, spoke on Kennedy instead.
So -- and I had planned on speaking to the Clean Cities Program as one of the several initiatives we have to begin to reshape our energy policy, but as if Teddy were here, as we would say in the Senate, if you excuse a point of personal privilege, I, quite frankly, think it's -- would be inappropriate for me to dwell too much on the initiative that we're announcing today and not speak to my friend.
My wife, Jill, and my sons, Beau and Hunter, and my daughter, Ashley -- and I don't say that lightly because they all knew Teddy. He did something personal and special for each one of them in their lives -- truly, truly are distressed by his passing.
And our hearts go out to Teddy Jr. and Patrick and Kara and Vicki, with whom I spoke this morning, and the whole Kennedy family. You know, Teddy spent a lifetime working for a fair and more just America. And for 36 years, I had the privilege of going to work every day and literally -- not figuratively -- sitting next to him and being a witness to history every single day the Senate was in session.
I sat with him on the Senate floor in the same aisle. I sat with him on the Judiciary Committee physically next to him. And I sat with him in the caucuses. And it was in that process -- every day I was with him -- and this is going to sound strange, but he restored my sense of idealism and my faith in possibilities of what this country could do.
He and I were talking after his diagnosis, and I said, "You know, I think you're the only other person I've met who, like me, is more optimistic, more enthusiastic, more idealistic, sees greater possibilities after 36 years than when we were elected."
He was 30 years old when he was elected. I was 29 years old. And you'd think that would be the peak of our idealism, but I genuinely feel more optimistic about the prospects for my country today than I did -- have at any time in my life. And it was infectious when you were with him. You could see it -- those of you who knew him and those of you who didn't know him -- you could just see it in the nature of his -- the debate, in the nature of his embrace, in the nature of how he, every single day, attacked these problems.
And, you know, he was never defeatist. He never was petty. Never was petty. He was never small. And in the process of his doing, he made everybody he worked with bigger; both his adversaries as well as his allies.
Don't you find it remarkable that one of the most partisan, liberal men in the last century serving in the Senate had so many of his -- so many of his foes embrace him because they know he made them bigger? He made them more graceful by the way in which he conducted himself.
You know, he changed the circumstances of tens of millions of Americans in the literal sense; literally, literally changed the circumstances. He changed, also, another aspect of it as I observed about him. He changed not only the physical circumstance; he changed how they looked at themselves and how they looked at one another.
That's a remarkable -- a remarkable contribution for any man or woman to make and for the hundreds, if not thousands, of us who got to know him personally. He actually -- how can I say it? He altered our lives as well. Through the grace of God and an accident of history, I was privileged to be one of those people. And every important event in my adult life, as I looked back this morning in talking to Vicki, every single one, he was there. He was there to encourage, to counsel, to be empathetic, to lift up.
From 1972, as a 29-year-old kid with three weeks left to go in a campaign, him showing up at the Delaware Armory in the middle of what we call Little Italy, would never vote nationally for a Democrat, I won by 3,100 votes and got 85 percent of the vote in that district or something to that effect. I literally would not be standing here were it not for Teddy Kennedy -- not figuratively. It's not hyperbole. Literally.
He was there -- he stood with me when my wife and daughter were killed in an accident. He was on the phone with me literally every day in the hospital when my two children were attempting, and God willing, got -- thankfully -- survived very serious injuries.
I'd turn around and there would be some specialist from Massachusetts -- a doc I never even asked for -- literally sitting in the room with me.
You know, it's not just me that he affected like that. It's hundreds upon hundreds of people.
I was talking with Vicki this morning, and she said -- she said, "He was ready to go, Joe, but we were not ready to let him go." He's left a great void in our public life and a hole in the hearts of millions of Americas and hundreds of us who were affected by his person touch throughout our lives; people like me who came to rely on him. He was kind of like an anchor.
And unlike many important people in my 38 years I've had the privilege of knowing, the unique thing about Teddy was it was never about him. It was always about you. It was never about him. There was people I admire, great women and women, but at the end of the day, it gets down to being about them. With Teddy, it was never about him.
Well, today, we lost a truly remarkable man. To paraphrase Shakespeare, I don't think we shall ever see his like again. I think the legacy he left was not just with the landmark legislation he passed but in how he helped people look at themselves and look at one another.
I apologize for -- for us not being able to go into more detail about the energy bill, but I just think, for me at least, it was inappropriate today. And I'm sure there will be much more that will be said about my friend and your friend, but he changed the political landscape for almost a half of century.
I just hope -- we say it lightly, you know -- we'll remember what he did. I just hope we remember how he treated other people and how he made other people look at themselves and look at one another. That will be the truly fundamental, unifying legacy of Teddy Kennedy's life if that happens, and it will for a while at least in the Senate.
Mr. Secretary, you and your staff are doing an incredible job. I look forward to coming back as at a happier moment when you are announcing even more consequential progress toward putting this back into position. We will, once again, control our own economic destiny.
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.), was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1959. Ted Kennedy was elected in 1962, making the close friends the first and third longest-tenured senators, respectively, in Senate history, with Strom Thurmond coming in second.
I had hoped and prayed that this day would never come. My heart and soul weeps at the lost of my best friend in the Senate, my beloved friend, Ted Kennedy.
Senator Kennedy and I both witnessed too many wars in our lives, and believed too strongly in the Constitution of the United States to allow us to go blindly into war. That is why we stood side by side in the Senate against the war in Iraq.
Neither years of age nor years of political combat, nor his illness, diminished the idealism and energy of this talented, imaginative, and intelligent man. And that is the kind of Senator Ted Kennedy was. Throughout his career, Senator Kennedy believed in a simple premise: that our society's greatness lies in its ability and willingness to provide for its less fortunate members. Whether striving to increase the minimum wage, ensuring that all children have medical insurance, or securing better access to higher education, Senator Kennedy always showed that he cares deeply for those whose needs exceed their political clout. Unbowed by personal setbacks or by the terrible sorrows that have fallen upon his family, his spirit continued to soar, and he continued to work as hard as ever to make his dreams a reality.
In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American.
God bless his wife Vicki, his family, and the institution that he served so ably, which will never be the same without his voice of eloquence and reason. And God bless you Ted. I love you and will miss you terribly.
In my autobiography I wrote that during a visit to West Virginia in 1968 to help dedicate the "Robert F. Kennedy Youth Center" in Morgantown, "Senator Kennedy's voice quivered with emotion as he talked of his late brothers and their love for West Virginia. 'These hills, these people, and this state have had a very special meaning for my family. Our lives have been tightly intertwined with yours.'
I am sure the people of the great state of West Virginia join me in expressing our heartfelt condolences to the Kennedy family at this moment of deep sorrow.
Sen. John Kerry, Ted Kennedy's fellow senator from Massachusetts since 1983:
We have known for some time that this day was coming, but nothing makes it easier. We have lost a great light in our lives and our politics, and it will never be the same again. Ted Kennedy was such an extraordinary force, yes for the issues he cared about, but more importantly for the humanity and caring in our politics that is at the center of faith and true public service. No words can ever do justice to this irrepressible, larger than life presence who was simply the best -- the best Senator, the best advocate you could ever hope for, the best colleague, and the best person to stand by your side in the toughest of times. He faced the last challenge of his life with the same grace, courage, and determination with which he fought for the causes and principles he held so dear. He taught us how to fight, how to laugh, how to treat each other, and how to turn idealism into action, and in these last fourteen months he taught us much more about how to live life, sailing into the wind one last time. For almost 25 years, I was privileged to serve as his colleague and share his friendship for which I will always be grateful. Teresa and I send all our love to Vicki, Teddy Jr., Patrick, Kara and their family, and to the entire Kennedy family for whom Teddy was always a rock at times like this. Massachusetts and our entire nation shares their loss and grieves with them.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who took the lead for an ailing Kennedy in leading health-care reform legislation through the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee:
I'm not sure America has ever had a greater Senator, but I know for certain that no one has had a greater friend than I and so many others did in Ted Kennedy.
I will always remember Teddy as the ultimate example for all of us who seek to serve, a hero for those Americans in the shadow of life who so desperately needed one.
He worked tirelessly to lift Americans out of poverty, advance the cause of civil rights, and provide opportunity to all. He fought to the very end for the cause of his life - ensuring that all Americans have the health care they need.
The commitment to build a stronger and fairer America, a more perfect union, was deeply ingrained in the fiber of who he was, and what he believed in, and why he served.
That's why he stands among the most respected Senators in history. But it was his sympathetic ear, his razor wit, and his booming, raucous laugh that made him among the most beloved.
Whatever tragedy befell Teddy's family, he would always be there for them. Whatever tragedy befell the family of one of his friends, he would always be there for us. And in this moment of profound grief, our hearts are with his wonderful wife Vicki, his fantastic kids Ted Jr., Patrick, Kara, Curran, and Caroline, his grandchildren, and the wide and wonderful extended family for whom he was always a safe harbor.
I will miss him every day I serve, and every day I live.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), longtime partner with Kennedy in passing bipartisan legislation, such as the creation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program in 1997:
Today America lost a great elder statesman, a committed public servant, and leader of the Senate. And today I lost a treasured friend. Ted Kennedy was an iconic, larger than life United States Senator whose influence cannot be overstated. Many have come before, and many will come after, but Ted Kennedy's name will always be remembered as someone who lived and breathed the United States Senate and the work completed within its chamber. When I first came to the United States Senate I was filled with conservative fire in my belly and an itch to take on any and everyone who stood in my way, including Ted Kennedy. As I began working within the confines of my office I soon found out that while we almost always disagreed on most issues, once in a while we could actually get together and find the common ground, which is essential in passing legislation. For almost two decades we alternated as Chairman and Ranking Members of the Senate Labor Committee, now called the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. During this time we were able to come together in a bipartisan fashion to craft some of this nation's most important health legislation. In the current climate of today's United States Senate it is rare to find opportunities where both sides can come together and work in the middle to craft a solution for our country's problems. Ted Kennedy, with all of his ideological verbosity and idealism was a rare person who at times could put aside differences and look for common solutions. Not many ever got to see that side of him, but as peers and colleagues we were able to share some of those moments. Elaine and I express our deepest condolences to Ted's beloved wife Vickie, and their extended family," Hatch added. "I am hopeful that they will find peace and comfort in the memories and life they were able to share with this giant of a man.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada):
The Kennedy family and the Senate family have together lost our patriarch. My thoughts, and those of the entire United States Senate, are with Vicki, Senator Kennedy's children, his many nieces and nephews, and his entire family.
It was the thrill of my lifetime to work with Ted Kennedy. He was a friend, the model of public service and an American icon.
As we mourn his loss, we rededicate ourselves to the causes for which he so dutifully dedicated his life. Senator Kennedy's legacy stands with the greatest, the most devoted, the most patriotic men and women to ever serve in these halls.
Because of Ted Kennedy, more young children could afford to become healthy. More young adults could afford to become students. More of our oldest citizens and our poorest citizens could get the care they need to live longer, fuller lives. More minorities, women and immigrants could realize the rights our founding documents promised them. And more Americans could be proud of their country.
Ted Kennedy's America was one in which all could pursue justice, enjoy equality and know freedom. Ted Kennedy's life was driven by his love of a family that loved him, and his belief in a country that believed in him. Ted Kennedy's dream was the one for which the founding fathers fought and his brothers sought to realize.
The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.):
Today there is an empty chair in our Senate and an empty feeling in our hearts. We all waited expectantly during Ted's struggle with cancer for the Senate doors to swing wide and that great Irish spirit to once again return." His voice roared as he battled for the poor and the victims of injustice yet he had a smile that could light a room, a laugh that would draw a crowd and a heart always ready to share your sorrow. America was blessed to have the gift of Ted Kennedy and I was blessed to count him as a friend.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.):
While Marcelle and I and the country knew this day was coming, our home in Vermont is filled with grief today and our hearts go out to Vicki and to all of Senator Kennedy's family. It is the sad passing of an era. For 35 years in the Senate Ted Kennedy was a close friend as he led on issues from education to health care. We often talked of the bond of the New England Irish and spoke again of this when we travelled to Pope John Paul II's funeral together. His sense of history and of our country and his firm and constant belief in America's promise and America's future was inspiring. His willingness to spend time with the most junior senators as with all others of both parties made him a senator's senator. The powerful have never lacked champions. Ted Kennedy was a champion for ordinary Americans and for those who struggle. He believed everyone in this great land deserves the opportunity to pursue the American Dream. It is easy in politics to appeal to the self-interest in each of us. Ted Kennedy appealed to the best in us, to the American verities that are written not on water but in stone. He appealed to our sense of justice, to our sense of responsibility to each other, and to our uniquely American sense of hope and possibility. In the Senate he labored to help reach bipartisan progress on health care, education, civil rights and voting rights, immigration reform and so much more. Ted Kennedy was the distillation of America's hope and America's promise. He belongs to each of us, and now he also belongs to the ages.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who worked with Kennedy to push immigration reform in recent years:
My friend, Ted Kennedy, was famous before he was accomplished. But by the end of his life he had become irreplaceable in the institution he loved and in the affections of its members. He grew up in the long shadow of his brothers, but found a way to be useful to his country in ways that will outlast their accomplishments. Many of his fellow senators, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, will note today that Ted was sincerely intent on finding enough common ground among us to make progress on the issues of our day, and toward that end he would work as hard and as modestly as any staffer. Many will recall his convivial nature, his humor, his thoughtfulness. We will praise as his greatest strength the integrity of his word. When he made a promise to you, he kept it, no matter what. What is harder for us to express is the emptiness we will feel in the Senate in his absence. Even when we are all crowded in the chamber for a vote, engaged in dozens of separate conversations, it will seem a quiet and less interesting place, in the knowledge that his booming voice, fueled by his passion for his convictions, will never encourage or assail or impress us again. I will miss him very much.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.):
It is with great sadness that Elaine and I note the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, one of the giants of American political life, a longtime Senate colleague, and a friend.
No one could have known the man without admiring the passion and vigor he poured into a truly momentous life. We send our deepest expressions of sympathy to Vicki, his children, and the entire Kennedy family.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.):
Today is a sad day in America and all around the world. In addition to being a valued friend, Senator Kennedy was a mentor and one of the national leaders who inspired me to enter public life. This distinguished figure in American history served for decades as a tireless advocate for all those who most needed a voice in Congress and sought assurance that government was on their side -- from working families to minorities, from children to the sick. He brought all human emotion to his tasks in order to get things done, combining warmth, humor, and determination. He was persistent and tenacious, yet he always earned respect and a handshake from even his most ardent opponents. There is no question that Senator Kennedy's passion and accomplishments have left us with a better world and a better America. In memory of his legacy, we must recommit ourselves to working together to move America forward. He will be sorely missed but his work will carry on. I send my love and deepest condolences to all members of the Kennedy family.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.):
Ted Kennedy was at once the most partisan and the most constructive United States Senator. He could preach the party line as well as bridge differences better than any Democrat. I will especially miss his cheery disposition and his devotion to United States history of which he was such a consequential part.
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.):
Lucy and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Senator Kennedy. He was the Lion of the Senate and fought for what he believed was right. Senator Kennedy also had a deep humanity and a common touch. Whenever someone in the Senate Family had a tragedy or challenge, Senator Kennedy was there for them. He was often the first to call and was always ready to reach out to help someone in trouble. That's why Ted Kennedy will never be forgotten and will always be missed
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.):
I think historians will remember Ted Kennedy as a member of an iconic American family who knew great tragedy but also great triumph. He was a leader who pressed on and picked himself up in the face of adversity and disappointment to make an enduring contribution to the American people.
Ted brought great passion and energy to all the causes he championed. When he rose to speak, it was always with a full heart. He was never reading talking points. We live in an era where everything is tested by focus groups, but Ted was old school. He spoke authentically, from the heart. At the end of the day, he cared most about the things that matter to ordinary people.
He was so immensely knowledgeable. He really wanted to drill down and say, 'Okay, how are we going to get costs down? How are we going to make sure everybody has access to health care coverage?' Those are the sorts of things he was a master at resolving.
I'll never forget one of my earliest experiences in the Senate-the first impeachment trial of a president in over 100 years. There were no rules. It was intensely partisan and political. Who was respected enough to broker a way forward? It was Ted Kennedy who hammered out the agreement of how the Senate should proceed. He had strong convictions, but he also was intensely pragmatic. Those qualities made him the type of person that leaders of both parties respected and wanted to work with.
Sen. Shelden Whitehouse (D-R.I.):
Senator Kennedy for me, as for so many other Americans, was the very epitome of a modern Senator. A proud New Englander, he was passionate in pursuit of justice and compassionate for his fellow man.
Senator Kennedy was a gracious mentor to me as a new Senator, and a treasured and respected friend. For his family, his constituents, and the rest of our nation, and for the United States Senate, which he made his home, my heart is heavy today at the loss of his booming voice, his rollicking humor, his masterful legislative skills and his lion's heart.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.):
Ted Kennedy was more than a Senate icon who fought tirelessly for the causes he believed in so passionately. He was more than a voice for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He was a loving son, brother, husband, father, uncle and grandfather and friend. Working with him for the last 30 years was one of the great honors I've had as a United States Senator. Senator Kennedy is simply irreplaceable, and the Senate will forever miss its great Liberal Lion. Yet, though Ted Kennedy is no longer with us, his legacy and his memory live on forever in the millions of people whose lives were made better through his work. In the true spirit of Ted Kennedy we will continue to advance the ideals and issues that were so close to his heart and such a part of his remarkable life. As we all mourn this great loss, his wife Vicki and his entire family will remain in our thoughts and prayers.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.):
Ted Kennedy was a mentor, a guiding light, and a close friend -- we all loved the man. In the Senate, Ted Kennedy was our sun - the center of our universe. To be pulled by his strong gravitational field, to bask in his warmth was a privilege, an honor, and, for many of us, even a life changing experience. His death leaves our world dark but, as he said in his own words, 'the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.' Ted, we will not let your flag fall.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas):
I am deeply saddened by the news of Ted's passing, and thankful for the opportunity to work side by side with him over the last six years. Ted's passion and dedication were without parallel. His dogged determination, an inspiration. When he decided to take on an issue, he didn't hold anything back. No senator was better prepared than he was. Having the honor of serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee together, I saw first hand this passion, dedication and determination applied to the great issues of our day. He and the entire Kennedy family are in Sandy's and my prayers during this difficult time.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.):
Ted Kennedy will go down in history as one of the giants of the U.S. Senate and one the most accomplished legislators in American history. He will also be remembered, by those who knew him, as an extremely warm and caring human being whose public service was a brilliant reflection of his love and devotion to his country, his friends and his family. As a member of the Senate health and education committee, chaired by Senator Kennedy, I was always impressed by his intelligence, knowledge and seriousness of purpose. His career in public service was driven by a deep sense of compassion and a belief that, in this great country, every American should be entitled to quality health care, education and other basic needs as well as equal justice under the law. Ted Kennedy devoted his lifetime to protecting those most in need, and tens of millions of Americans have been the beneficiaries. His absence from the Senate leaves an enormous void. His colleagues and the nation will miss him greatly.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.):
I was deeply saddened to hear the news of Senator Ted Kennedy's passing. While we did not always see eye to eye on the issues of the day, he was a devoted and ardent champion of the causes he believed in. I enjoyed the opportunities I had to work with him on issues that we shared a passion for, particularly our ongoing efforts to strengthen our nation's public health system. Brooke and I extend our thoughts and prayers to Vicki and the Kennedy family.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.):
Before coming to the United States Senate in 2001, like a lot of Americans, I thought of Ted Kennedy as one of the most popular, progressive, passionate, and partisan senators. It turns out he was also one of the most practical members of the Senate and regarded by his colleagues as the most bipartisan. His voice will be missed by all of his colleagues, Democrat and Republican alike. That voice - and his leadership - have been sorely missed already this year in our efforts to adopt meaningful, bipartisan healthcare legislation. Had his own health allowed him to fully participate, we would be far closer to consensus today on a path to healthcare in America whose quality provides better outcomes, whose cost is more affordable, and whose access is more broad. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, the State of Massachusetts, and with all those who knew and loved him.
Moffitt Cancer Center Chair Emeritus and former Senator Connie Mack (R-Fla.):
America has lost an icon who was one of the most effective legislators in the history of the United States Senate. I had the distinct pleasure of working with Senator Ted Kennedy on numerous health policy initiatives, including advancing stem cell research, women's health issues, assistance for people living with Cancer, HIV/AIDS and other afflictions, and expanding the horizons of scientific knowledge. Despite our ideological differences, Ted worked with my Republican colleagues and me to forge bipartisan solutions on some of the most important and complex public health challenges facing our nation. His effective leadership, and his life-long dedication to assisting those in need, will be missed.
Moffitt Cancer Center appreciated the opportunity to work with Senator Kennedy in our effort to expand quality care to cancer patients in fulfilling our mission to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.
My heartfelt condolences go to his beloved wife, Vicki, the Kennedy family and his dedicated staff.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
The United States Senate will never be the same without Ted Kennedy. His presence was enormous. He fought hard, debated intensely and worked tirelessly for what he thought was right. Senator Kennedy and I had a different point of view on most every issue, but he was an ally like few others when he was on your side. Senator Kennedy leaves a legacy as a public servant and policy maker, and my wife Barbara joins me in sending our deepest sympathy to his family.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.):
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. Over a lifetime of leadership, Senator Kennedy's statesmanship and political prowess produced a wealth of accomplishment that has improved opportunity for every American.
Senator Kennedy had a grand vision for America, and an unparalleled ability to effect change. Rooted in his deep patriotism, his abiding faith, and his deep concern for the least among us, no one has done more than Senator Kennedy to educate our children, care for our seniors, and ensure equality for all Americans.
Ted Kennedy's dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration.
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.
On behalf of all Members of Congress, and personally on behalf of my family, today and in the days ahead, our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Kennedy family, especially with Senator Kennedy's devoted wife Vicki, and with Kara, Teddy Jr., and our colleague Patrick, who made their father so proud. I hope it is a comfort to them that our nation and the world mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.):
Today, America mourns the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy. He was one of the most dynamic and influential legislators in our Nation's history, and his legacy will live on in the work of the colleagues he inspired, and in the lives of the millions of Americans for whom his passion for social justice made a difference. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends; even though this day was anticipated, I am sure that little can soften the blow.
Throughout his final illness, Sen. Kennedy was privileged to have the best doctors and the best treatment. But he never forgot, in this as in all cases, those who were not similarly privileged: those waiting hours in emergency rooms this morning for a doctor's care; those who went to sleep last night unsure that they were covered, uncertain that their families could cope with the financial burden of an illness. For their sake, health care reform was the cause of Ted Kennedy's life. For their sake, and his, it must be the cause of ours.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio):
The people of Massachusetts and the United States Congress have lost a tireless public servant.
Ted Kennedy was my friend. While there were few political issues on which he and I agreed, our relationship was never disagreeable, and was always marked by good humor, hard work, and a desire to find common ground.
Ted Kennedy was also a friend to inner-city children and teachers. For the better part of the last decade, Ted and I worked together to support struggling Catholic grade schools in inner-city Washington. By helping these schools keep their doors open and helping them retain their committed teachers and faculty, this joint effort made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of inner-city children, who otherwise would have been denied the opportunity for a quality education. It wouldn't have been possible without Senator Kennedy and his genuine desire to give something back to help inner-city students in the city in which he'd served for so many years. I'm proud to have worked with Senator Kennedy on this project, and I will dearly miss his friendship and his partnership in this cause.
Debbie and I extend our thoughts and prayers to Vicki and the entire Kennedy family at this difficult time
House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.):
America mourns the loss of a legendary leader and public servant, Senator Edward M. Kennedy. His body of work spans a near half-century, but will live forever. He was the protector of the least of these and the champion of equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all Americans. Whether it's civil rights, education, public health or a livable minimum wage, his work has improved American lives in a myriad of ways. As we move forward with health reform legislation, his absence will be palpable. But let us use his inspirational words as our guide, to rise to our best ideals and finally provide decent quality health care to all Americans as a fundamental right, not a privilege. My thoughts and prayers are with Victoria, my friend and colleague Patrick, and the Kennedy family.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.):
Today our country and the world lost a leading light and a legislative legend. Edward Kennedy was the greatest senator this country has ever known and an inspiration toall who have answered the call topublic service.
Never afraid to sail against the wind in the name of justice, equality and opportunity, Senator Kennedy was a treasured friend and a legislator without peer. Throughout his distinguished career, he helped bring health care tomillions of children, enabled many young people toafford a college education and ensured that so many could realize the American dream.
In these difficult times, my thoughts and prayers are with the entire Kennedy family, especially with Senator Kennedy's wife Vicki, and with Kara, Teddy Jr. and my colleague Patrick.
To echo his own immortal words, the causes which he championed shall endure, his hopes will live on in the millions of people his work touched and the dreams of Ted Kennedy shall never die.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.):
Senator Kennedy's death is an incalculable loss to the country. His leadership on so many issues, and his emphasis on reducing unfairness in our lives made him one of our greatest national assets. He was the most effective Senator in American history because of his great talent and the respect that other Senators had for him.
The state of Massachusetts has lost our most effective advocate at the national level because Senator Kennedy never let his leadership on national issues in any way diminish his commitment to the people of Massachusetts. Finally, on a personal level having had the chance to work with him was a great privilege. His generosity of spirit and gift for friendship made being his colleague a joy. We have lost a great American hero.
DCCC Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.):
With the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, a family lost its patriarch, the U.S. Senate lost its most gifted legislator, and Americalost an unparalleled leader.
Senator Ted Kennedy was elected in Massachusetts, but to millions of Americans he was our Senator. A tenacious fighter for working men and women who share the belief that Americais the greatest country in the world. His passion and purpose were dedicated to righting wrongs and ensuring that our better days are ahead.
Senator Kennedy said that 'health care is the fight of his life.' Today, we pick up the torch and recommit ourselves to health insurance reform.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Senator Kennedy's wife, children - including our friend and colleague Patrick, his family, his friends, and his constituents.
Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.):
There is not a heart in this country that is not broken by this news, just as there is not a life that was not bettered in some way by Senator Kennedy's spirit, passion and remarkable lifetime of work. At the core of everything Senator Kennedy fought for was a profound sense of justice. In foreign and domestic policy, he was grounded by a fundamental sense of right and wrong, and our country is better for it.
Senator Kennedy was always a personal hero of mine. Over the past 35 years, the opportunity to work with him, to have him as a mentor, and a friend has been immensely valuable to me. Along with the rest of the nation, I have great respect for his commitment, his courage, and his leadership in fighting for the most important causes of our time. My wife Cynthia and I, along with our family, send our thoughts and prayers to Senator Kennedy's wife Vicki, his children, Patrick - who has already begun to carry on his father's legacy - Kara, Edward Jr., and the entire Kennedy family.
Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.):
Ted Kennedy was the greatest Senator of our age. He had a commitment to justice and he knew how to use the legislative process to achieve it. The passion of his life was health care reform. Above all else he would want us to redouble our efforts to achieve it. We will miss him in the fight.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):
America has lost a distinguished statesman with the death of Senator Kennedy. While Senator Kennedy was a formidable Democratic legislator, he proudly wore the battle scars of bipartisanship and left an indelible mark upon his family, the people of Massachusetts and the American institutions he faithfully served since 1962.
My thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, with whom I serve on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Rep. Kennedy has demonstrated the strengths of principled tenacity, good humor and relentless sense of duty that marked the life of his father.
Senator Kennedy was a man of the arena, a great legislative foil but an even greater political partner. As our nation engages in a vigorous debate about health care reform - the fight of Senator Kennedy's life - his absence will hang heavy on our hearts.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio):
I first met Senator Kennedy when he visited me in a Cleveland hospital thirty eight years ago. His compassion and caring was always personal and always real. When my brother Perry died unexpectedly in December of 2007, Ted Kennedy was one of the first to call with condolences, sharing his sympathetic understanding of loss. He had a powerful sensitivity to human emotion and his life writ large the range of human experience: great triumphs and sudden reversals. His tenacity often came against the heavy burden of deep personal tragedy, which enlarged the quality of his spirit, and made his frequent expressions of humor poignant and profound. Yes, he made himself into one of the greatest Senators. But Ted Kennedy was more than a great Senator. He was a great friend.
Rep. Phil Hare (D-Ill.):
Senator Ted Kennedy was one of the greatest men I ever knew. One of my first political experiences was as a volunteer on his 1980 presidential campaign. Senator Kennedy grew up with every privilege a person could have, yet he spent his entire career fighting for the most vulnerable among us. He was a champion of civil rights for women, racial minorities, gays and lesbians, and all those who faced undue discrimination. He used his powerful role in the Senate to craft legislation that extended the American Dream to ordinary families through better jobs, schools, and health care. And he was the single best friend that organized labor and America's working men and women ever had. There is no way to fully repay Senator Kennedy for his historic contributions to our nation. But we can start by passing comprehensive health care reform this fall, an issue he called, 'the cause of my life.' My condolences go out to the entire Kennedy family.
Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.):
Senator Kennedy was a tireless advocate for the people he represented, the causes in which he believed, and the many family and friends who loved him. We may not have agreed politically, but I was honored to be able to call Senator Kennedy a friend. He had an infectious energy and enthusiasm about serving the American people that crossed party lines. My thoughts and prayers are with Vicki, my colleague Patrick, and the extended Kennedy family at this difficult time.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.)
With the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy this morning, the nation's heart is broken. Ted crossed the aisle and worked his magic with the success that no other member of the Senate or House enjoyed. Yet, Ted was no adherent of the fuzzy middle. He anchored his career on the frontier of difficult issues, especially for those with no voice, few rights, and little economic justice, pulling his colleagues where few dared to go without him. However, it was the Kennedy magic that often brought resolution and agreement. I will miss Ted's partnership, particularly on the most important District issues. Ted was always there with us and for us. No matter how deep the controversy - from public funds for public schools to our struggle for D.C. Statehood, and when statehood was not then possible, for the House and Senate vote, and today for the D.C. House Voting Rights Act of 2009 we are so close to achieving. Although ill in Massachusetts, he was the first to call to assure me of his continued work on D.C. voting rights, and he continued to help us during his absence from the Senate. I had hoped to see Ted again soon as we brought to conclusion our bill for a Congressional Gold Medal for the nation's first popularly elected African American Senator, Sen. Edward Brooke, a native Washingtonian who served Massachusetts with Ted from 1967 to 1979. As we plan for an upcoming ceremony to award this medal this fall, I know that Sen. Brooke will feel the loss of his friend in a uniquely special way. In the wake of a triumphant Senate career, Ted Kennedy has left it to us to complete his life's work on his signature issue - healthcare for the nation. His passing in the midst of the healthcare struggle wounds us. May we find healing in new healthcare legislation for all Americans.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)
Senator Kennedy was a legislative giant. He devoted his career to improving the health and welfare of the American people, especially the downtrodden. We will sorely miss his leadership and his friendship. I extend my deepest sympathies to the Kennedy family. I join with them and the entire nation in mourning his passing.
Attorney General Eric Holder:
Senator Edward Kennedy was one of the most extraordinary, influential and kind people who ever served our country. His steadfast advocacy for civil rights, rule of law and fairness in the criminal justice system has always been an inspiration to me, as I know it remains today for countless employees of the Department of Justice. His loss is an immeasurable one and on this sad day my thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Every day I look at the portrait of his brother Robert that hangs in my office and I am reminded that the Kennedy family has shown to America, through its actions, the importance of fighting for what is right even in the face of difficult odds. I would not be in the office I now hold were it not for their contributions and commitment to our nation. Senator Kennedy's accomplished life came to a close last night but in the struggle to provide justice and equality for all Americans we will work every day to ensure that his cause endures and that his dreams for a better America never die.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis:
Last night we lost a hero, and I lost a friend. The passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy is an indescribable loss for our nation and the world.
In 2000, I had the great honor of being presented the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award by the senator. And, I will always remember his insights and advice during my confirmation hearing.
A tireless champion of working people, Sen. Kennedy dedicated his life to making America a better place. Over the past half century, his efforts shaped every major piece of legislation advancing the labor and civil rights, education, health and economic well-being of past, current and future generations.
His leadership, commitment and ability to work across the aisle set the standard for policymakers. And he made progress a reality for everyone in America.
It is difficult to think of our country without 'Ted Kennedy.' Such is the passing of one who has done so much good for so many. Our hearts go out to his wife, Vicki, and his children, Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara. And we find comfort in knowing his legacy will endure as long as justice, fairness and opportunity for all remain the core of America's values.
National Security Advisor James L. Jones:
As a young Senate Liaison officer during the early 1980's, I had the opportunity to get to know Senator Edward Kennedy who was then a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Senator Kennedy and his staff were among some of the best supporters the Marine Corps ever had on Capitol Hill. Despite his many responsibilities, he always made time for me on issues of importance to Marines and their families. Always gracious and well informed, the Senator was instrumental in the passage of the landmark legislation known as Goldwater-Nichols and military pay reforms, which ushered in the most comprehensive reforms of our military and defense establishment since the end of World War II. Senator Kennedy, among the many things he will be remembered for, deserves to be honored for his genuine care and compassion for our men and women in uniform - his tireless work and his voting record clearly supports this distinction. While he never shied from challenging our senior military leadership during hundreds of committee hearings, he could always be counted on to be fair and open-minded in letting witnesses like me make our case to the committee and to the American people. He contributed a great deal to my "Washington education", and I'm sure he is most proud of the contributions many of his former staff members continue to make to our nation today.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar:
We have lost a great leader and a great man today. Senator Kennedy was not just a colleague but a friend who inspired me, as he inspired so many, to serve this great country, to seek justice, and to care for the least among us. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. He will be sorely missed.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:
I join Americans across the country in mourning the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy and extending my deepest condolences to the Kennedy family. The Kennedys are a part of my family's political history. I vividly remember my parents' joyous celebration when President Kennedy was elected in 1960. I was proud to serve as one of Senator Kennedy's Kansas campaign co-chairs in 1980 and it was a tremendous honor to work with him throughout the course of my career.
Senator Kennedy spent his career fighting to improve the health of the American people and extend services to those in need. His work touches all of us and almost every corner of the Department of Health and Human Services. Today, because of his work, senior citizens who would otherwise go hungry will receive meals. Millions of children across the country will have access to medical care and Head Start. And our nation is a fairer and more just place because of his tireless efforts to promote civil rights and end discrimination.
Ensuring that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care was one of the causes of Senator Kennedy's life and we will carry his mission forward. We will honor his incredible legacy of advocacy and accomplishment through our work. Senator Kennedy never let us forget our most important charge as public servants: representing the American people and giving voice to those who have been ignored or forgotten. We will always remember that lesson and his incredible service to our nation.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton:
Today I join all Americans in mourning the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, one of our nation's finest statesmen and a dear friend. My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Kennedy's wife Vicki, his children, grandchildren, and all the members of the extended Kennedy family.
For five decades, Senator Kennedy was at the heart of our greatest debates, serving on the front lines of democracy. With optimism and courage, he helped us meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of our times. He was a champion for women and families, for health care, education, civil rights and the environment. He inspired generation after generation of young Americans to enter public service, to stand up for justice and to fight for progress. And he was a legislator without peer, who understood both when to stand his ground and when to seek out the common ground on which compromise and progress is built.
When I was First Lady, we worked together to provide health insurance for America's children. When I arrived in the Senate, he was a generous mentor and a thoughtful colleague. We worked together to raise the minimum wage, improve education, and champion the cause we shared so deeply: ensuring that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care. And as Secretary of State, I valued his counsel on how to make America a force for peace and progress around the world.
I will always treasure the memory of his friendship and the time we spent together, from the Massachusetts waters he loved so much, to the floor of the Senate that will feel empty without his booming voice and broad smile.
We have lost Ted, but his life's work will shape our nation for years to come. His legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of millions of Americans who are freer, healthier, and more prosperous because of his efforts. As he said, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
Former presidents, other politicians and friends
Former President Jimmy Carter, to the BBC:
My own hope here is that his deep commitment to comprehensive health plan in our country will be honored by his contemporaries and his peers in the near future.
Former President George H.W. Bush:
Barbara and I were deeply saddened to learn Ted Kennedy lost his valiant battle with cancer. While we didn't see eye-to-eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service -- so much so, in fact, that I invited him to my library in 2003 to receive the Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service. Ted Kennedy was a seminal figure in the United States Senate -- a leader who answered the call to duty for some 47 years, and whose death closes a remarkable chapter in that body's history.
Barbara and I -- and all Bushes -- send our heartfelt condolences to Victoria, Ted's kids, and the entire Kennedy family.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, husband of Maria Shriver, Kennedy's niece:
Maria and I are immensely saddened by the passing of Uncle Teddy. He was known to the world as the Lion of the Senate, a champion of social justice, and a political icon.
Most importantly, he was the rock of our family: a loving husband, father, brother and uncle. He was a man of great faith and character.
Teddy inspired our country through his dedication to health care reform, his commitment to social justice, and his devotion to a life of public service.
I have personally benefitted and grown from his experience and advice, and I know countless others have as well.
Teddy taught us all that public service isn't a hobby or even an occupation, but a way of life and his legacy will live on.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney:
The loss of Senator Ted Kennedy is a sad event for America, and especially for Massachusetts. The last son of Rose Fitzgerald and Joseph Kennedy was granted a much longer life than his brothers, and he filled those years with endeavor and achievement that would have made them proud.
In 1994, I joined the long list of those who ran against Ted and came up short. But he was the kind of man you could like even if he was your adversary. I came to admire Ted enormously for his charm and sense of humor - qualities all the more impressive in a man who had known so much loss and sorrow. I will always remember his great personal kindness, and the fighting spirit he brought to every cause he served and every challenge he faced. I was proud to know Ted Kennedy as a friend, and today my family and I mourn the passing of this big-hearted, unforgettable man.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick:
One of the Commonwealth's brightest lights went out last night. Ted Kennedy was a compassionate, effective, visionary statesman, family man and friend. Diane and I were blessed by his company, support and many kindnesses, and miss him profoundly. We pray for comfort for his beloved wife and partner Vicki and his entire family.
Nancy Reagan, wife of former President Ronald Reagan:
Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family. But Ronnie and Ted could always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another. In recent years, Ted and I found our common ground in stem cell research, and I considered him an ally and a dear friend. I will miss him.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
There will never be another first family of American politics like the Kennedys, and there will never be another United States Senator like Ted Kennedy. Inspired by the noblest of ideals - a life of service in pursuit of justice, equality, and peace - Senator Kennedy's compassion and charisma were matched only by his extraordinary legislative accomplishments over five decades. It was a great honor to join him last April for President Obama's signing of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which will ensure that his legacy of service will live on in the good works of millions of Americans for years to come. Senator Kennedy was much more than a great liberal lion and master orator. He was a pragmatist who reached across the aisle to pass legislation that has improved the lives of people around the world. I particularly admired his bi-partisan leadership on health care, education, and immigration reform, and he was a critical ally in our efforts to ensure that all 9/11 first responders receive the care and treatment they deserve. But more than all that, I will remember Senator Kennedy as a gracious and generous man, a man with a big heart and a ready laugh, a man who endured terrible family tragedy, and who guided his loved ones - and the whole country - through some of our darkest days. Today, on behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to his wife, Victoria, his sister Jean, his children, and his entire extended family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.
Democratic National Committee Chairman and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (D):
I am saddened by the news this morning of the passing of a great and gracious statesman. Senator Kennedy was an undeniable force in the halls of Congress and touched countless lives in his five decades of public service. Like his brothers before him, Senator Kennedy unfailingly kept the most vulnerable citizens closest to his heart, and I will greatly miss his compassionate voice and remarkable leadership.
On behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I extend my
condolences to his family and loved ones.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele:
I am saddened to hear of the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy. My heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Vicki and the entire Kennedy family. For close to five decades, Senator Ted Kennedy followed in his family's long tradition and served his country with great distinction. His legacy should serve as an inspiration to anyone interested in public service.
New York Governor David Paterson (D):
It is with profound grief that I learned the news of Senator Edward Kennedy's passing late last night.
Senator Kennedy took his seat in the United States Senate in 1962, and from the moment he was sworn in, he fought for the progressive principles and ideas that he held so close to his heart. Over the course of 47 years in the Senate, he was an unstoppable force for peace, civil rights, expanding access to health care, improving education, reforming our immigration system and encouraging national and community service. It is fair to say that Senator Kennedy influenced every important issue that affected our nation for the past half century, and on every issue, he stood for justice and compassion.
Senator Kennedy was the Lion of the Senate and one of the most consequential figures of the 20th century. He was intimately familiar with the Senate's levers of power, and knew how and in what order to pull them. His mastery of the legislative process is unparalleled in our time, and he stands on par with giants like Webster and Clay. Still, first and foremost, he was a friend to regular Americans. He was a fighter for our needs. He was a true American hero.
And so today, Americans mourn the loss of our great champion, but we also rejoice in what he lived for. As Senator Kennedy said of his brother Robert, so can be said of him: 'He gave us strength in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty and sharing in time of happiness.'
Senator Kennedy may be gone, but the impression he left on this nation and its people remains. The values he spent his life fighting for stand eternal. His dream for a better future lives. On behalf of my family and all of the people of the State of New York, I offer the Kennedy family my condolences on this great loss. I hope that they, and all of the Senator's friends, colleagues and supporters, can take comfort from the knowledge that America is a safer, freer and more just nation thanks to Ted Kennedy.
Gov. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.):
Like all New Jerseyans and Americans, I am deeply saddened by the passing of Senator Kennedy. On behalf of all of New Jersey I extend condolences to his wife, Vickie, and family. I had the honor of serving with Senator Kennedy. I was mentored and inspired by his leadership and friendship. He was an extraordinary senator for 47 years, leaving an unmatched legacy of contributions, especially on healthcare, to all Americans. He will be truly missed, but his dreams will never die. While we might be tempted to regret that Senator Kennedy did not live to see universal health care - the 'cause of my life' he called it - we should all rejoice in all of the great, enormous good that Senator Kennedy accomplished while he was here with us, and honor his memory by redoubling our commitment to making that cause a reality now, this year, in 2009.
Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty:
Senator Ted Kennedy will be remembered for his leadership as a life-long public servant, and for his legacy of reaching across party lines to get results on some of the most important issues of our time. Senator Kennedy's presence will be sorely missed in the halls of the Capitol and throughout our capital city. Our hearts and thoughts are with the Kennedy family during this difficult loss.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook:
I would like to extend our sympathies to the Kennedy family as we hear word about the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy. He believed in our country and fought passionately for his convictions.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe:
Senator Kennedy's lifetime of work made the Democratic Party forever stronger. As Party Chairman, he was both my ally and my friend. I have fond memories of our visits at the DNC Headquarters, with his beloved dogs always along for the trip. He worked tirelessly on behalf of Massachusetts to bring the 2004 Democratic National Convention to Boston, making frequent, impassioned appeals about why it was the right place for us to be. After we selected Boston, his ongoing efforts helped us ensure the success of that convention - but one chapter in his giant life, and one I was honored to share. Sitting proudly on my desk is a gavel he gave me, made from the oak and copper of the USS Constitution - a testament to his solid convictions. I am grateful to have known this extraordinary leader and extend my deepest condolences to his beloved family.
Sarah and Jim Brady, of the Brady Campaign:
This morning, Jim and I sat out on our porch and talked about the profound impact on our world made by a single man. One of the proudest honors of our lives was to have had Senator Kennedy as a friend.
Without Senator Kennedy, there would not be a Brady Law. Through our long fight, he was always there, always ready to do anything we asked of him, never seeking the spotlight, just driven to help accomplish what was right. He was politically wise, remarkably fascinating company, a great storyteller. He and Jim had a special kinship because of their shared Irish heritage, but he was deeply kind and selfless to both of us.
We are all less wealthy without Ted Kennedy. We have lost a great champion of reason and righteousness and courage.
John R. Seffrin, PhD, CEO of the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network:
We are truly saddened by the passing of a giant in the area of health care policy -- our friend, US Senator and recipient of the American Cancer Society's highest award, Medal of Honor and the National Distinguished Advocacy Award, Edward "Ted" Kennedy. Senator Kennedy was a passionate advocate for cancer patients and their families, not just in his home state of Massachusetts, but nationwide.
Truly one of the great champions in this battle to fight cancer, Senator Kennedy has led a passionate effort against this disease during his more than 40 years in the US Senate, championing health care-related causes from equal access to health care to increased funding for cancer research and screening for early detection.
Known as the 'Lion of the Senate,' Senator Kennedy has fought to bring all the resources of the nation to bear in fighting cancer and other diseases, renewing the war on cancer by introducing a bill to overhaul the 1971 National Cancer Act. Senator Kennedy helped to reign in the tobacco industry with legislation that gives FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products, which was signed into law in June. Senator Kennedy also championed the expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program with an increase in the tobacco tax.
Senator Kennedy was personally touched by this disease long before his own diagnosis, watching his son, Ted Kennedy, Jr. battle bone cancer as a teen, and daughter Kara Kennedy Allen battle lung cancer in 2003.
We are deeply grateful for Senator Kennedy's commitment and support throughout his long, illustrious career. He will truly be missed. We express our deepest condolences to Ted's wife, Vicki, and the rest of his family.
Ellen R. Malcolm, president and founder of EMILY's List:
I am deeply saddened by the loss of Senator Kennedy. He was a true champion for women and families in the United States and around the world. Sen. Kennedy was a major supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment for constitutional equality for men and women; a strong advocate for Title IX that increased participation for women in college sports; and more recently a leader in passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that ensures equal pay for equal work. He will be truly missed. My thoughts are with the Kennedy family and the extended family of Kennedy staff and friends across the country.
Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Andrea Miller, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, in a joint statement:
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kennedy family today. They have lost a devoted father, husband, grandfather, and uncle, and the people of the commonwealth of Massachusetts and all Americans have lost a great statesman and champion for progressive values.
Throughout his career, Sen. Edward Kennedy set a new standard as a voice for the powerless and inspired generations of Americans to strengthen their country by contributing through public service. He was a tireless advocate for women's equality and an eloquent guardian of the values of freedom and privacy, most notably as a leader on
health care and judicial nominations.
Sen. Kennedy never wavered in his pursuit to do what was right for the American people. At a time when our country faces such significant challenges, we must pay tribute to Sen. Kennedy's legacy by following his example of moving forward, even against great odds and relentless opposition from opponents of progress.
Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force mourns the loss of Senator Edward Kennedy, a true champion of the people and a dear friend to our community. The senator was a hero to many across the country and around the world. He spent his life fighting for justice for working people, people of color, children, women, LGBT people, immigrants, people with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS and so many others who looked to his leadership for a more just society. Senator Kennedy was unmatched in his compassion and in his willingness to stand with those who often lacked a champion. Even after his death, his vision will inspire generations to work for the health, welfare and equality for all he so doggedly pursued. We offer our deepest and most sincere condolences to his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones at this difficult time.
Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice:
Alliance for Justice deeply mourns the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA). He dedicated his life to the best of America and its values, embodying the fight for justice and equality. Senator Kennedy gave his voice to the voiceless and wielded his power for the powerless. He leaves behind a grateful nation and a legacy that will persist for generations to come. We must honor his memory by not only reflecting on that legacy but by continuing to advance the values and causes he so valiantly championed during his unparalleled career. In the words of Senator Kennedy himself, 'the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.' We have lost a great American, but on this somber day there is no doubt that Senator Edward Kennedy made America great.
National Organization for Women President Terry O'Neill:
We lost a true legislative hero in Ted Kennedy -- a defender of women, children and all those who are discriminated against and underserved in this country.... We have Kennedy to thank for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. He was a great leader in the fight for health care reform, and I only hope that we can honor him by passing real reform designed to benefit the people -- not insurance CEOs.
Kennedy was committed to creating a level playing field for all, especially those who traditionally have been denied access to the American dream. He will be an extremely hard act to follow.
NOW calls on Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and state officials to follow Kennedy's wishes and take the necessary action to allow for the senator's seat to be filled until a special election can take place," said O'Neill. "We urge that this replacement be a strong supporter of the broad range of social justice issues that Kennedy advocated for throughout the last half century.
Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League:
The National Urban League joins the nation in mourning the loss of Senator Edward Kennedy.
Sen. Kennedy leaves a legacy that will live on for many years to come. He was a true champion and one of the most important advocates of civil rights.
As one of the last U.S. Senators who fought for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Sen. Kennedy stood for many of the same rights that we fight for daily - equality, education, employment, and healthcare.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Kennedy family.
Ralph G. Neas, Chief Executive Officer and Henry E. Simmons, President, of the National Coalition on Health Care:
The National Coalition on Health Care joins the Nation in mourning the loss of Senator Edward M. Kennedy and celebrating his unmatched legacy of public service, perseverance and leadership in the legislative arena.
For over three decades it has been our honor to work with Senator Kennedy in building bipartisan support for a better future for all Americans. His commitment to a nation of high principle and bold endeavors immeasurably improved countless lives.
In this time of remembrance, we rededicate ourselves to seeing what Ted Kennedy called the cause of his life - the enactment of sustainable reform to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care -- is realized. To quote one of his final public speeches, today, for us "the work begins anew."
Migration Policy Institute Senior Fellow Doris Meissner, who heads MPI's U.S. Immigration Policy Program:
Beginning with his championing of the Immigration Act of 1965, which eliminated national-origin quotas, Senator Kennedy worked tirelessly for the past five decades to make the U.S. immigration system one that is color-blind, more just, and a safe haven for people fleeing persecution and upheaval around the world. In so doing, Senator Kennedy helped change the character of the immigration system, and indeed the country, bringing the United States a step closer to its founding ideals of fairness and opportunity for all. Senator Kennedy had a tremendous sense of trying to address injustice and right wrongs -- and there are plenty of them in the immigration field -- and he was always there, working and prodding to make the immigration system a better, fairer one.
Migration Policy Institute Vice President for Programs, Don Kerwin:
Senator Kennedy viewed immigration policy both as a way to strengthen and renew our nation, and as a tool to protect and safeguard people in great need. His accomplishments in the immigration field are legion. His first major legislative initiative, the Immigration Act of 1965, will go down as one of our nation's core civil-rights bills of that era, helping to preserve immigrant families and to eliminate discriminatory 'national origin' quotas.
Beginning in the 1970s, Senator Kennedy championed the U.S. refugee program, which since that time has provided protection to 2.6 million refugees from throughout the world. His leadership in passing the Refugee Act of 1980 significantly strengthened U.S. asylum and refugee law, bringing it into compliance with international norms. In 1986, Senator Kennedy was instrumental to passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which provided nearly 3 million immigrants with the opportunity to legalize their status. His leadership on the Immigration Act of 1990 helped to create temporary protected status for persons fleeing refugee-like situations.
He was an original sponsor of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which offered legal status and protection to immigrants in abusive situations. Most recently, he sought comprehensive reform of the nation's immigration laws, as a co-author of the McCain-Kennedy bill in 2006 and as one of the main negotiators of the Senate bill in 2007. Senator Kennedy's legacy has been one of openness to millions of worthy immigrants and he has helped to create a stronger, more robust and compassionate nation.
Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:
As the head of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition in Boston before coming to the Forum, I witnessed the deep personal commitment Senator Kennedy felt for immigrants and for fixing America's immigration laws. After a devastating raid in New Bedford in 2007, Senator Kennedy and other leaders met with family members who gathered in the basement of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church as hundreds streamed in. The families huddled around Senator Kennedy asking him for help finding parents and loved ones who had been taken away by armed federal officers.
Senator Kennedy did not want to leave that church basement. These were his people, these were the people he wanted to help, and these were the people impacted most directly by our broken immigration system. I saw in his concern for these terrified and shattered families Senator Kennedy's personal commitment to righting wrongs when he saw them.
That afternoon, and in the days and months ahead, Senator Kennedy led yet another push for comprehensive immigration reform on the floor of the United States Senate. Each time he spoke, he went back to that moment in New Bedford to remind our country why we need to fix our out-dated immigration system. Fighting for the dignity and safety of immigrants who give their work and their sweat to this country was not an abstract policy matter for Senator Kennedy.
The great-grandson of eight immigrants to America, the brother of two of America's most visionary leaders on fighting for a fair and just immigration system, Senator Kennedy was in his own right the architect of the modern struggle to honor America's legacy as nation built by, populated by, and defined by immigrants from around the world.
We will miss his humor, his strategic sensibility, and his ability to keep us moving forward whatever the obstacles. He taught us that the fate and possibilities of all of us are fully intertwined with the fate and possibilities of the least of us. Both political parties and every American, regardless of status or station, can honor Senator Kennedy's life and legacy by recommitting ourselves to making the United States of America the most welcoming, free, egalitarian, and successful nation on earth.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People:
Senator Kennedy was a courageous leader for civil and human rights. He championed more civil rights initiatives than any other Senator in U.S. history," said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. "Even as he took his last breath, he was passionately fighting for the health care reform our nation critically needs. His dedication and vision will be profoundly missed. The thoughts and prayers of the entire NAACP family go out to the Kennedys at this time of sorrow and mourning." "The world has suffered an incalculable loss, our nation has lost a lion, and the movement for social justice has lost its greatest legislative champion. He will be much missed and he will not be replaced," stated Julian Bond, Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors. "Senator Kennedy was a true friend to the NAACP and the causes of civil rights throughout his entire career. Civil Rights, human rights and health care, among others, were issues that were far from just political for Senator Kennedy, they were personal. He was always so passionate and inspiring on the floor of the Senate, at forums and in his every-day dealings with the NAACP that everyone he came in contact with would walk away with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to issues of human dignity and justice," stated Hilary O. Shelton, Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Director of the NAACP's Washington Bureau. "The entire NAACP family is deeply saddened by this loss. Senator Kennedy was a political strategist like no other and not only have we lost an ally, but we have lost one of the giants in the Civil Rights movement," concluded Shelton.
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, President John Sweeney:
Ted Kennedy was not just a senator for Massachusetts; he was our senator--a senator for working people, for poor people, for the old and the vulnerable. For all those who needed a champion, he was our champion. He personified a sense of aspiration that has become America's aspiration--to make things better, to make them more fair, to make our nation more compassionate and hopeful, to make life work for working men and women.
He has left an enormous footprint on America. For nearly a half century, Ted Kennedy was the chief standard-bearer for working families in the United States Senate--and on the Senate Labor Committee. "When I went to the United States Senate in 1962, the leadership asked me what committee I wanted to be on," he told the AFL-CIO convention in 2005. "I said, 'I want to be on the Labor Committee," just as his brothers had before him. He championed the cause of working people and labor out of deep affection--and the affection was mutual. He was loved for his roaring passion, his decency, and his generosity. Few can claim the adoration he received not only as the senator who more than any other defined America's vision for civil rights, workers' rights, health care, education, disability rights and so much more--but also as "Teddy," the man who remembered birthdays, celebrated family and shared chuckles.
It is because of his 47 years of service, hard work and faith that we will pass affordable, quality health care this year--and go on to restore the freedom of every working person to organize and bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions.
Ted Kennedy was most optimistic when sailing into the wind. He took glee in a good fight, but never preened or paraded when he won. And he was clear about his values. I am reminded of the stark choice he laid out for America when he described to the AFL-CIO his measure for judging a particular Supreme Court nominee:
"Will he stand for workers' rights and women's rights and civil rights? Will he stand with workers of America or the Wal-Marts of America? When a worker is injured, will he stand with corporations or with average workers? When insurance companies deny health care, will he stand with the HMOs or average Americans? When polluters poison our water and our air, will he stand with the polluters or with the people? When Benedict Arnold companies use tax loopholes to send jobs overseas, will he stand with the corporations or will he stand with hard-working Americans here at home?"
That clarity and conscience is his gift to all Americans, and we will carry it on.
American Federation of Government Employees, President John Gage:
Senator Ted Kennedy was simply the greatest champion American workers and the labor movement have ever had in the United States Senate. No one ever worked harder to improve health care and education, and to protect pensions than Senator Kennedy. No one ever worked harder to strengthen civil rights laws and protect the environment. No one ever fought more courageously to preserve Social Security and Medicare.
For federal employees in particular, he was there, time and again, to offer amendments to stop the unconscionable contracting out of their jobs, and to lead the opposition to efforts to eliminate their civil service protections and collective bargaining rights. And Transportation Security Officers are well aware of his constant and unyielding effort to establish their collective bargaining rights for the first time.
But more than that, Senator Kennedy was a good friend. He was the first to call or write after a victory or a loss, whether professional or personal. He always wanted to know what was going on, and how he could help. I will never forget his kindness to me and to all of AFGE's members. Our hearts today are with his family and his staff.
The Associated Press reports on reactions from world leaders.
August 26, 2009; 11:18 AM ET
| Tags: Biden, House, Kennedy, Obama, Senate, Ted Kennedy, press release
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