A picture of Senator Richard J. Durbin
Richard D.
Democrat IL

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  • Closing the First Session of the 113Th Congress

    by Senator Richard J. Durbin

    Posted on 2013-12-20

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    DURBIN. Madam President, there are many traditions around this holiday season that I cherish, but I must confess that the tradition of spending Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve on the floor of the Senate is not one of those traditions. Happily, this year we won't be repeating that practice from previous years. We are leaving here shortly--some have already--to spend the holidays at home with family.

    As we close this first session of the 113th Congress, I wish to personally thank our majority leader Senator Harry Reid--and let me add his wife Landra--for their leadership and their resolve that helps to make this Senate work.

    I also thank the minority leader Senator Mitch McConnell. Although we may disagree on many issues and have our debates on the floor of the Senate, I have a great respect for my colleagues and particularly their leader Senator McConnell. We all know we can't do this work alone. It takes a lot of dedicated people to keep the Senate functioning.

    On behalf of Leader Reid, I wish to acknowledge and thank the Senate Parliamentarians and clerical staff and doorkeepers. I also thank the cloakroom staffs, the members of our floor staffs who put in even longer than usual hours these past few weeks, and all of the Senate staffers, Democratic and Republican.

    I thank the Capitol Police officers for keeping us safe. We have to remember they risk their lives every day for us and all the people who work and visit this great Capitol.

    A special thanks to our Senate pages. We ask a lot of them--long hours for a lot of young people. We want them to know that their work is greatly appreciated. We wish them the best of luck. They will be coming back in January to finish their current assignment as pages. I hope they have a great time at home with their families. Perhaps someday they will return here, maybe as Senators themselves.

    Part of the magic of this holiday season is that it enables many of us, even just for a few moments, to consider a new world, to look at it with a little less cynicism. I hope all of my colleagues will have a few moments like that in the coming holidays, and I hope we are all going to come back and try to preserve some small measure of good will and make it part of our life's work in the next year of the Senate session.

    The budget agreement we passed this week was a good beginning to a less [[Page S9116]] partisan, more productive Senate. I hope that is a portent of good things to come.

    There is a lot more we need to do. The American people are still counting on us to work together on measures that will help to create good jobs and strengthen America's economy, strengthen working families in Wisconsin and Illinois and all across America.

    And particularly at this Christmastime, let's remember the message of Pope Francis and religious leaders all over the world: to remember the needy and the help they need that we can provide and must provide in this caring world.

    We all only serve in this body for a finite period of time. After we are gone, we want to look back on our service in the Senate and we all want to be able to say: I was part of something important. I helped meet the great challenges of my time, and I helped to preserve the American dream. I hope that is part of our new year's resolve on both sides of the aisle.

    Senate Agenda When we return in January, the Senate will continue working on nominations, starting with confirmation of Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve when we vote on January 6. Our first order of legislative business will be to vote to extend unemployment benefits for those who have exhausted their benefits and still can't find work through no fault of their own. This is a matter of simple fairness. It affects more than 1 million Americans and their families. We will not give up on them and on our responsibility to help them through this difficult time.

    In closing, let me wish all of my fellow Senators and our staffs, those who transcribe our remarks, and many others who make the Senate work every single day, as well as our fellow Americans, a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year.


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