For thirty years, Carl Levin and I served together in the United States Senate. He was one of the most honorable and decent people I have ever known.
Brilliant, humble, and principled, Carl earned the trust of his constituents and colleagues by doing the work. He studied the issues in detail. He forged consensus across the aisle. He built coalitions across his beloved Michigan. With his head tilted down, his eyes peering over his glasses – Carl always looked people straight into their own eyes, listened with an open mind, and responded the way he saw it with respect.
Over the course of his thirty-six years in the Senate, the longest serving Senator in Michigan history, he showed how democracy – and our institutions – can deliver and work for the people.
As chairman and ranking member of the Armed Services Committee during my time leading the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I saw how he built consensus to protect our national security, uphold our values, and honor the service of every patriot in uniform. He led on critical issues ranging from the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, ending the use of torture, and recognizing the dignity of every American and allowing them to serve regardless of who they are and who they love.
A son of Detroit who never forgot where he came from, Carl always stood up for the American worker and the iconic American auto industry. In the midst of the Great Recession in 2009, with Detroit on its back and the industry on the brink, we worked together to do everything we could to get them back up. And they did because of Carl.
On education, gun safety, on holding corporate America accountable for abuse and greed, and so much more – Carl always looked out for the people.
Each time I traveled to Michigan with Carl over the years was special. We would talk about how we both got first involved in public life because of issues of civil rights and first got started in elected office – he on the Detroit City Council and I on the New Castle County Council. We would talk about the beauty of the Great Lakes and the Detroit RiverWalk. Most of all, we would talk about family.
Jill and I send our love to his beloved Barbara, their children, and grandchildren. Despite the full life he lived, we know the void his loss leaves. We know despite his courageous fight against cancer, it still leaves behind a heavy toll. We’re also thinking of our dear friends, his brother and former Congressman Sandy Levin, and his nephew Congressman Andy Levin, who share Carl’s commitment to service and country.
Carl Levin embodied the character of the people of Michigan he served throughout his remarkable career. Above all, he embodied the best of who we are as Americans.
May God bless a great American, a dear friend, and a good man.