Congressman David Rivera issued a statement Thursday on his chief of staff, Steve Vermillion, who died Thursday night after a four-year battle with leukemia.
"For nearly twenty five years, I have known Steve as a friend, family man and committed public servant," Rivera said. "My service in Congress has been greatly enhanced by Steve's invaluable advice and knowledge regarding all aspects of the legislative process. As a 17 year veteran of Capitol Hill, Steve will be dearly missed by the Capitol family for his warmth and his sense of service to this institution and our nation."
Vermillion was the longtime chief of staff of former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart. And he had ties to Miami: Vermillion, who spoke fluent Spanish, attended graduate school at the University of Miami and once worked as director of congressional affairs for the Cuban American National Foundation.
On Twitter, Diaz-Balart wrote, "I will always remember him with deep affection and admiration."
Jaime Suchliki, director of UM's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, also mourned Vermillion's death.
"Steve was devoted to the defense of human rights, particularly in Castro's Cuba," Suchliki wrote. "He was a jovial, kind, and intelligent human being and a loyal friend."
Read the full statements after the jump.
--PATRICIA MAZZEI AND LESLEY CLARK