Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) mourned the death on Tuesday of his close friend, former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), whom Inouye called a "brother."

"Irene and I are deeply saddened by the tragic death of our dear friend, and my brother, Ted Stevens," Inouye said in a statement. "His wife, Catherine, and his entire family are in our thoughts and prayers during this most difficult time."

The 85-year-old Hawaii senator and Stevens, who died in a plane crash at the age of 86, had long enjoyed a close relationship. The two often paired up to ensure fair treatment of their two states, the two noncontiguous U.S. states.

Inouye said:

Our friendship was a very special one. When it came to policy, we disagreed more often than we agreed, but we were never disagreeable with one another. We were always positive and forthright. Senator Stevens and I worked together to ensure that the small non-contiguous states of Hawaii and Alaska were not forgotten by the lower 48 and to ensure that the nation awoke to the importance of the Pacific for our economy and international relations.
I will never forget him.

Ted Stevens was an extraordinary American. He risked his life while serving in China with the Flying Tigers in World War II. He was a leader in the Senate, having served as Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Chairman of the Commerce Committee, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate.

I have lost my brother.