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The Service Employees International Union released a statement this morning on the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy, urging Americans to "continue his cause" by passing health care reform. Here is the full text:



"In Senator Kennedy's vision of America, every family has access to affordable healthcare, every worker has a paycheck that supports their family and a secure retirement, every child has a right to a quality education, and every immigrant can achieve the American Dream.



"Senator Kennedy spent his entire adult life, through tragedy and triumph, in pursuit of this America. From his first major speech in support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to his last vote on President Obama's economic recovery plan, his vision of a more perfect nation never wavered.



"Because of Senator Kennedy, millions of children have access to healthcare, crucial immunizations, Head Start programs, and grants and loans to make college more affordable. Unemployed workers have access to COBRA and low-income mothers are able to get food, healthcare and other resources for themselves and their children. People with disabilities are treated with respect and dignity and workers are protected by an adequate minimum wage.



"Senator Kennedy's America is our America. It is the America of the nurse in Pittsburgh, the janitor in Miami, and the child care provider in Maine. It is the America that SEIU members continue to fight for. And Senator Kennedy stood beside us in that fight longer than anyone else.



"Senator Kennedy stood with SEIU members on countless picket lines and contract negotiations. He stood with millions of hardworking immigrants and SEIU members to call for comprehensive immigration reform in 2005. He stood with workers fighting for a voice on the job by championing the Employee Free Choice Act. And until his final days he stood with SEIU healthcare workers and other workers to win access to affordable healthcare for all Americans.



"Thirty nine years ago, Senator Kennedy introduced his first bill to overhaul our nation's broken healthcare system and provide affordable coverage to all Americans. We stand closer now than ever before to achieving what Senator Kennedy called the cause of his life.



"Let us continue his cause. Let us take action this year to pass healthcare reform. And let us continue to build Kennedy's vision of America."

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) died last night, age 77, after an extended battle with brain cancer.

Kennedy was first elected to the Senate in 1962, to the seat formerly held by his brother, President John F. Kennedy. Over the next several tumultuous years he survived the deaths of his brothers John and Robert, and turmoil both public and personal, to emerge as both a leading champion of American liberalism and a father figure for his whole extended family.

Kennedy ran unsuccessfully for President in 1980, challenging incumbent President Jimmy Carter in the Democratic primaries. In 2008, his endorsement of Barack Obama in the run-up to Super Tuesday gave Obama a boost that may very well have made the difference in that close race.

Obama: Kennedy "The Greatest United States Senator Of Our Time" President Obama released a statement last night on the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts," said Obama, later adding: "An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time."

Reid: "It Was The Thrill Of My Lifetime To Work With Ted Kennedy" Senate Majority Leader Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has also released a statement. "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," said Reid, later adding: "The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die."

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Here are reactions from around the country and world to the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who died late Tuesday night of brain cancer at the age of 77.

The Kennedy family:

Edward M. Kennedy -- the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply -- died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port. We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it's hard to imagine any of them without him.


President Obama:

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.

Our hearts and prayers go out to them today--to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.


Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT):

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. Harry Reid (D-NV):

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.


Nancy Reagan:

I was terribly saddened to hear of the death of Ted Kennedy tonight. 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.


Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT):

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.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver:

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 benefited 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.


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-AZ):

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.


Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV):

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 (D-MA):

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.


Rep. John Lewis (D-GA):

At some of the most tragic and difficult moments in this nation's history, Ted Kennedy gathered his strength and led us toward a more hopeful future.


Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH):

Ted was always willing to not only reach across the aisle, but had the unique ability to pull people together to get things done, with both substance and a great sense of humor. He was undoubtedly one of the single most effective senators in this history of our country.


Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA):

One of the Commonwealth's brightest lights went out last night. Ted Kennedy was a compassionate, effective, visionary statesman, family man and friend.


Mitt Romney:

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.


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown:

Even facing illness and death he never stopped fighting for the causes which were his life's work. I am proud to have counted him as a friend and proud that the United Kingdom recognized his service earlier this year with the award of an honorary knighthood.


Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen:

America has lost a great and respected statesman and Ireland has lost a long-standing and true friend.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

Kennedy has been a friend for 30 years, a great American patriot, a great champion of a better world, a great friend of Israel. He will be sorely missed.


Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd:

Ted Kennedy was a great American, a great Democrat and also a great friend of Australia. He has made an extraordinary contribution to American politics, an extraordinary contribution to America's role in the world.


Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA):

The best tribute we could pay him is a renewed vigor in the fight to see his dreams realized. The world is going to miss Ted Kennedy. I already do.


RNC 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.


National Security Advisor Jim 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.


Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN):

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. 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.


Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY):

I was very saddened to learn of Senator Kennedy's passing last night. For nearly 50 years, Senator Kennedy dedicated his life to the service of his country and to the advancement of universal humanitarian values. His strong voice was a progressive voice ringing out through the many upheavals and crises of the last five decades. Senator Kennedy was a consistent champion for civil rights in our nation and human rights around the world, and he did more to fight for health care as a fundamental right than perhaps any other American. Like millions of others, I mourn the loss of this gifted leader and fighter for progressive ideals. My prayers and condolences go out to the Kennedy family.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA):

My heart goes out to his wonderful wife Vicki and to his family. He was a colleague, an inspiration and a friend. Ted Kennedy dedicated his life to ensuring that America would be a better place. A better place for the poor, for children, for seniors - a better place for all Americans.

I have had the distinct honor of serving on the Judiciary Committee with Ted Kennedy for 17 years, and have seen up close and personal his dedication to issues of civil rights, human rights, and basic fairness to all. He is irreplaceable, and leaves shoes that are so big that it will be difficult for a mere mortal to fill them.


Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI):

Sen. Kennedy was a champion of all whose voices are not often heard in public debate. He was a model legislator to those of us who relish the democratic process and work to find common ground with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I share his fervent desire to ensure health care for all in America and will carry on this quest inspired by his commitment. My thoughts are with my friend and colleague, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, and his entire family.


Bill Clinton:

Senator Ted Kennedy was one of the most influential leaders of our time, and one of the greatest senators in American history. His big heart, sharp mind, and boundless energy were gifts he gave to make our democracy a more perfect union.

As President, I was thankful for his fierce advocacy for universal health care and his leadership in providing health coverage to millions of children. His tireless efforts have brought us to the threshold of real health care reform. I was also grateful for his efforts, often in partnership with Republicans as well as Democrats, to advance civil rights, promote religious freedom, make college more affordable, and give young Americans the opportunity to serve at home in Americorps. I am glad the bill President Obama signed to expand Americorps and other youth service opportunities is named the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Through it, his commitment to public service will live on in millions of young people across our nation.

Hillary and I will always be grateful for the many gestures of kindness and generosity he extend to us, for the concern he showed for all the children and grandchildren of the Kennedy clan, and for his devotion to all those in need whose lives were better because he stood up for them. Our thoughts and prayers are with Vicki, his children and grandchildren, and the people of Massachusetts he served so well.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):

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.


Former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA):

Ted sought the White House, but destiny kept him in the Senate, where I believe his cumulative impact was substantially more than he would have likely achieved as president.

As a champion of the underdog, his national and international following gave him the power and influence to shape domestic policy in health, education and civil rights more than any single senator over the past 50 years.  Ted's ability, energy, and dedication -- as well as his willingness to compromise and work across party lines -- enabled him to make an indelible imprint on our nation.

I cherish the opportunity I had to serve with Ted for almost a quarter century.  Colleen and I are grateful for our friendship with Vicki and Ted and have Vicki and Ted's family in our thoughts and prayers.  We thank the Kennedy family for Ted's service and sacrifice for our nation.


Gary Hart:

I had the great fortune to know Ted Kennedy as a friend and former Senate colleague. He was a voice for justice; he was a crusader for equal rights for all; he was a fighter for the poor and dispossessed; and he now joins his brothers in the best political heaven there can be. I miss his laughter.


Secretary Of State Hillary 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.


Secretary Of Health And Human Services 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.


Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA):

I, along with my colleagues in Congress and all Americans, mourn the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Kennedy's tireless efforts on behalf of our nation's working families, particularly on issues relating to health care, will continue to make a difference in the lives of so many Americans.

It was Senator Kennedy who in 1997, pushed through the landmark State Children's Health Insurance Program, which represented the largest reform to our nation's health care system since Medicare.

And it was Senator Kennedy, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, who has worked, even as his own health declined, to make sure we complete the critical reforms to our health care system necessary to ensure that every American has access to meaningful, affordable health coverage.

Kennedy's ability to forge compromises and bring people together from across the aisle has been critical to the passage of so many pieces of important legislation over the last 45 years. He will be deeply missed.

As I worked for the passage of CHIP in Pennsylvania as a state Senator, and now as a member of Congress, Senator Kennedy's commitment to the health of America's children and families was always an inspiration.

When we return to Washington, I hope that we in Congress will follow Senator Kennedy's example and honor his memory by moving quickly and purposefully to pass legislation that will ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care.


Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ):

Senator Ted Kennedy was larger than life, and his passing has left an enormous hole in all of our hearts.

And while Teddy was without doubt the "greatest United States Senator of our time," as President Obama said today, the powerful were not his passion. Teddy cared for the least among us.

He fought for the young. The old. The sick. The poor. People struggling with disabilities. Those denied the basic civil rights all Americans are entitled.

As the last living of four brothers, Teddy knew grief. Maybe that's where his legendary compassion came from. If he were here, he'd know exactly what to do. He'd offer comforting words, a hand on the shoulder, a listening ear. His loss is our loss, indeed.

On behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to Senator Kennedy's family and countless friends. We've truly lost a shining light.

The following statement was released by the White House early Wednesday morning.

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary For Immediate Release August 26, 2009

Statement from President Obama:

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.

Our hearts and prayers go out to them today--to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), a giant of liberalism in the latter half of 20th century who was often overshadowed by the memory of his slain brothers, died of brain cancer late Tuesday night in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. He was 77.

First elected to the senate in 1962 at the age of 30, Kennedy went on to serve in the body for 46 years -- longer than all but two senators in United States history, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D) of West Virginia and Sen. Strom Thurmond (R) of South Carolina.

Kennedy's long political career was filled with a mix of historic legislative accomplishment, tragedy and recurring scandal. Kennedy was the key legislative mover behind the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which abolished the national origin quotas that had been in place since the 1920s, as well as a key supporter of numerous Great Society programs. Yet his central role in passing this and other path-breaking liberal reforms in the late 1960s was soon overshadowed by the incident on Chappaquiddick Island in 1969 in which the passenger in the car Kennedy was driving, Mary Jo Kopechne, died after he drove off the edge of a bridge.

Kennedy later fought a bitter primary battle against President Jimmy Carter in 1980 but failed to wrest away the nomination. And in the years following he gave up the presidential ambitions that had hung about him like an aura since the death of his brother Robert Kennedy in 1968.

By the early 1990s, with a new marriage to second wife Victoria Anne Reggie, Kennedy began to emerge as an elder statesman of the Democratic party and its often diminished liberal wing. His reputation as a consummate legislator and conscience of his party began to eclipse the burden of his brothers' legacy and personal indiscretions which had cast a shadow over the first quarter century of his senate career.

In the final two years of his life, Kennedy provided critical support which then-candidate Barack Obama used to secure the Democratic nomination and later the presidency. And he lived to see an historic and as yet unresolved political confrontation over comprehensive health care reform, which he called "the cause of my life."

For many, Teddy Kennedy's life, with its highs and lows, will never compare to the heroic, even mythic, reputations of his brothers, John and Robert, both of him were felled by assassins' bullets in their 40s. But the passage of time suggests a more favorable verdict. In contrast to their younger brother, the senate careers of John and Robert Kennedy were brief and relatively undistinguished. And the personal recklessness and indiscipline at the root of the scandals that marred the younger Kennedy's reputation were amply evidenced in his elder brothers' lives, just little known until years after their deaths. Had they lived in the era of unforgiving press scrutiny in which Teddy Kennedy lived most of his adult life, history might remember them quite differently.

In the end, Teddy Kennedy's life was defined by the blessing and curse of longevity, a span of almost eighty years that allowed him to emerge as a legislator and politician vastly more accomplished and influential (in terms of the effects on the everyday lives of ordinary Americans) than either of his brothers but also revealed his personal shortcomings in ways his brothers' never were. Yet by his later years, through a mix of a trademark perseverance, dedication to public service and undeniable accomplishments, his personal story took on an air of redemption, perhaps even transcendence, which is a fitting memorial in death.

Early Wednesday morning, the Kennedy family released the following statement announcing the senator's death ...

"Edward M. Kennedy - the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply - died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port. We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it's hard to imagine any of them without him."

During the health care fight this summer, the GOP has been warning seniors, in ominous tones, of the danger that Democrats might cut Medicare--conveniently forgetting that this has been the Republican party's official position for more than a generation.

Thankfully, their words have been immortalized.

The below clip comes from a 1961 American Medical Association recording of then-actor Ronald Reagan warning that "one of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine."

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An message from the Independent Women's Forum to its considerable email list tells a terrifying tale. "More American women are going to die of breast cancer if you and I surrender to President Obama's nationalized healthcare onslaught," it reads.

It's as simple as that. You see, over the past 30 years our nation's doctors and self-responsible citizens actually drove the mortality rate from breast cancer down 25%.... Why? Because nationalized healthcare does not let doctors and their patients decide what's best. Because nationalized healthcare means fewer treatment options. And because, at the end of the day, you and I are much more likely to do all it takes to keep ourselves alive than some faceless government bureaucrat.


I suppose the logic is that the treatments and screenings that have lowered the breast cancer rates will disappear or be "rationed" after Obama "nationalizes" the health care system.

You can read the entire letter below the fold.

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Another shoe has dropped in the New Jersey gubernatorial race. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown -- who took a $46,000 loan in 2007 from her then-boss Chris Christie, who is now the Republican nominee for Governor -- has resigned from her job in the U.S. Attorney's office, effective immediately.

"I am extraordinarily proud of all the work we have done and all the good we have accomplished on behalf of the people of this state," Brown wrote in her resignation letter. "I also know how important it is that we continue to pursue our mission, and I do not want to become a distraction from the critically important work we do."

Christie has gotten in trouble this past week over the loan, which he did not disclose in his ethics disclosure forms, and for which he did not report income from it on his taxes (though it was duly filed with a county clerk's office as a mortgage). Democrats have attacked the loan, and have also called on Brown to recuse herself from handling Freedom Of Information Act requests involving Christie's tenure at the office.

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