Senators paid tribute to Beau Biden, Vice President Joe Biden's son, on the Senate floor Sunday during a rare session to debate reforms to the Patriot Act.
A former attorney general of Delaware and Iraq war veteran, Beau Biden died on Saturday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 46. His father was a longtime U.S. senator, so many of his former Senate colleagues knew the younger Biden well.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) opened the session by offering his condolences to the Biden family and honoring Beau Biden's life in public service.
"I've known the vice president for many years, and it's hard to think of anything more important to him than his faith and his family," McConnell said. "I hope he will find comfort in the former, as he grieves such a terrible loss. The Senate offers its presiding officer and every member of his family our prayers and our sympathy."
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) echoed McConnell's sentiments, calling Beau Biden "such a fine young man." Reid also honored Joe Biden's devotion to his sons, particularly in the wake of the sudden death of his first wife, Neilia, and young daughter, Naomi, in 1972.
"There's a song, 'A Man of Constant Sorrow,' that certainly if that ever applied to someone, it would be our friend Joe Biden. Not having even been sworn into the Senate, [he experienced] the tragic loss of his wife and little girl. And then his two sons, Beau and Hunter, he spent a time on the train going back and forth to Delaware virtually every night, taking care of those two fine young men until he was fortunate enough to meet Jill Biden, his beautiful wife. So, Mr. President, I'm very, very sorry that Joe has had to go through this terrible ordeal of losing a son now, after having lost a daughter," he said.
In remembering Beau Biden, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) fondly recalled visiting him while he served in Iraq in 2009 and Joe Biden's unwavering pride in his son.
I told Beau, 'Look, I've known you since you were a youngster. I'll call your father as soon as I can and tell him you're behaving yourself. You're doing a good job,'" Leahy said.
"You could hear the pride in his father's voice. You could hear his pride. It was a pride that was deserved."