Lawmakers pay tribute to Colin Powell

Lawmakers from both parties and different ideologies came together on Monday morning to mourn Colin Powell, the towering military and diplomatic figure who died after contracting COVID-19 while undergoing treatment for blood cancer.

Praise for Powell’s service came from both sides of the aisle after news of his death broke. Progressive and moderate Democrats spoke of his legacy, and pro-Trump Republicans and more establishment GOP figures expressed gratitude for his work.

“He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend,” former President George W. Bush said in a statement regarding his onetime secretary of State.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney hailed Powell, who was 84, as a “trailblazer and role model for so many: the son of immigrants who rose to become National Security adviser, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary of State.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), an unabashed Trump supporter who rose to House leadership this year, said she was saddened by Powell’s death.

“America has lost a true leader and American patriot, but we will always remember his service to the United States of America!” she tweeted.

“Colin Powell was a soldier, diplomat & statesman of the highest order. His life embodied the American dream,” former Trump national security adviser Robert O’Brien tweeted. “The 16th Nat’l Security Advisor, he set a standard of integrity & professionalism for all of us who succeeded him. Requiescat in pace, General & may God bless your family.”

In the Senate, there was largely uniform praise for Powell and his legacy.

“A gr8 general & public servant passed away God bless Colin Powell & his family,” tweeted Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the longest serving member of the Senate.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who leads the GOP Senate campaign arm, said Powell “broke barriers and helped lead our nation through some of its darkest days. Ann and I are praying for Secretary Powell’s family and loved ones.”

Remembrances for Powell crossed ideological lines in the Democratic Party, with moderates and progressives alike citing his service and contributions to the country.

“I’m saddened to learn of the passing of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. A trailblazer & dedicated public servant, he committed his life to serving our country. His calm and steady leadership will be missed,” House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) tweeted.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), a progressive who defeated longtime Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) in a primary last year, called Powell an “inspiration.”

“He was from NYC, went to City College, and rose to the highest ranks of our nation,” Bowman tweeted. “Sending love, strength and prayer to the family and friends of Secretary Powell. Rest in power sir.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who was an anti-war activist in the early 2000s, called Powell a “tested and historic leader who will inspire future generations of Americans.”

Powell shaped U.S. policy across multiple administrations. He served as national security adviser to former President Reagan, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the George H.W. Bush administration and as secretary of State during the George W. Bush administration, where his role in building international support for the invasion of Iraq drew criticism. 

Though he served under Republican presidents, Powell backed Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden in their respective presidential contests. His endorsements in 2016 and 2020 prompted backlash from Donald Trump and his allies, but even some of those figures offered praise for Powell on Monday.

“Colin Powell was a great American and a good friend,” Rudy Giuliani, who has parroted Trump’s election lies, tweeted Monday. “I was one of a small, but determined group, that urged him to run for President in 1996. What if???”

Tags Barack Obama Chuck Grassley Colin Powell Colin Powell death Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Eliot Engel Elise Stefanik Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Kyrsten Sinema Robert O'Brien Rudy Giuliani
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