Obama Administration Reactions to Kennedy Death
Updated 1:30 p.m. ET
Various Obama administration issued statements on Wednesday regarding the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The full statements are posted below and others will be added when they are distributed:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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