- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 26 (UPI) — Congress and the White House reacted swiftly to the death of former New York Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who died Wednesday at the age of 76 after a series of health problems left him hospitalized in Washington.

New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who filled his Senate seat in 2001, announced his death on the Senate floor.

"We have just received word that Sen. Patrick Moynihan has passed away," she said. "We have lost a great American, an extraordinary senator, an intellectual and a man of passion and understanding for what really makes the country work."

Moynihan died of complications due to a ruptured appendix, Washington Hospital Center spokesman LeRoy Tillman said. Moynihan had been hospitalized since March 11 after contracting an infection from an emergency appendectomy.

"Senator Moynihan died peacefully this afternoon at Washington Hospital Center with his family at his side," Tillman said.

Moynihan served in the Senate from 1977 to 2001 after serving as ambassador to the United Nations, and his reputation in the Senate was one of great intellectual prowess.

"Laura and I are saddened by the death of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan," President Bush said in a statement. "Senator Moynihan was an intellectual pioneer and a trusted adviser to presidents of both parties. He committed his life to service and will be sorely missed."

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, S.D., spoke of Moynihan's legacy and contributions.

"The Almanac of American Politics called Pat Moynihan 'the nation's best thinker among politicians since Lincoln, and the best politician among thinkers since Jefferson,'" Daschle said. "He was a scholar, an educator, an adviser to four presidents and a statesman.

"He was a man of extraordinary vision, intelligence and integrity. He was a larger-than-life figure, whether on the streets of New York or in the halls of the Senate. New York and the nation have lost a giant."

Several senators took to the floor of the upper body to pay their respects to their longtime colleague.

Mississippi Republican Trent Lott — who served as majority leader during part of Moynihan's terms — spoke of his intellect.

"I have not known a more brilliant and a more erudite senator than the distinguished Sen. Pat Moynihan from New York. He served his country in so many critical roles," Lott said.

And New York's senior senator said that few outside the Capitol or New York recognized Moynihan's legislative accomplishments.

"There are hundreds of millions of human beings in this country, they don't know it, but he made their lives better. There are billions of people in the world and through his work, he made their lives better," said Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat.

In the U.S. House, longtime New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, also a Democrat, released a statement reminding the nation of Moynihan's contributions to understanding and helping resolve economic issues that affect the urban poor.

"He took positions on principle rather than for political expediency," Rangel's statement said. "Often, particularly during the debate over welfare reform, Pat stood up for the poor, the underserved, and the children when they had few other advocates.

"He and I were the senior Democrats on the tax writing committees and the senior New Yorkers in the House and Senate respectively so we often worked together through long days and long nights. I had the opportunity to see Pat Moynihan not just as the statesman and scholar, but as a human being — a dedicated husband, father and grandfather and a good friend."

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