the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release

Statement by the Vice President on the Passing of Howard Baker

Jill and I were saddened to hear of the passing of our friend, former Ambassador, White House Chief of Staff and Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker. And our hearts go out to his wife Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker, who partnered with me on some of the most significant pieces of legislation that I worked on in Congress.

Howard and I worked together and traveled together, and we became good friends over the years. He was one of the best Majority Leaders I’ve ever served with. He was honorable, he was tough, and he was fair. He possessed tremendous wisdom and integrity, and he had an ability to put himself in the other person’s shoes so he could work out an honorable compromise.

I watched Howard do it time and time again. He teamed up with Senator Ed Muskie to pass the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. He helped restore confidence in the integrity of government as a member of the Watergate Committee. He risked his career to pass the Panama Canal Treaty. And when he was President Reagan’s Chief of Staff, I was honored to work with him on the judicial nomination process.

President Harry Truman once said, "It's understanding that gives us the ability to have peace. When you understand the other fellow's viewpoint, and he understands ours, then you can sit down and you can work out your differences.” That’s who Howard Baker was. The understandings he reached at every stage of his career have made our country and our world a better place. He was a good man.