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Senate Pauses for Kennedy Tribute

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Updated 1:28 p.m. ET

Senators today paused to pay tribute to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, lauding his work to on behalf of expanding health care coverage as they work to pass a bill in his absence.

"For three decades, including his last days, he labored with all his might to make health care a right for all Americans," Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts said, according to the Associated Press.

Kerry called Kennedy "an indispensible man."

"On every occasion, in this chamber and out, he was a man whose heart was as big as heaven, whose optimism could overwhelm any doubters and whose joy for life was wonderfully contagious," he said.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said that Kennedy's impact "will long endure."

"The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall on deaf ears, but his dream shall never die," Reid said of the longtime legislator, according to the AP.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell also weighed in, the news service notes, pointing out that Kennedy served in the Senate during the terms of 10 presidents. He said Kennedy's "great weapon" as a legislator was simply the fact that "people liked him."

Kennedy died following a battle with brain cancer on August 25th.

President Obama capped off his speech to a joint session of Congress last night with an emotional appeal tied to Kennedy. The president revealed that the senator had penned a letter to him to be delivered after Kennedy died in which the senator expressed confidence that heath care reform would pass this year.

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