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Mitch M.
Republican KY

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  • Commending David J. Schiappa

    by Senator Mitch McConnell

    Posted on 2013-08-01

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    McCONNELL. Mr. President, this morning I wish to say a few words about somebody who will not be around when we get back after the recess. After nearly 30 years of service, Dave Schiappa is hanging up his cleats. Dave is not exactly a household name. I think he likes it that way, but there is no question to those who work here day in and day out that nobody is more essential to the running of this place than Dave. To the extent we get anything done around here, it is largely because of Dave. To the extent we are not getting into shouting matches and food fights the rest of the time, well, that is largely thanks to Dave too. He has been the glue and he has been the grease that keeps this place functioning and we are really going to miss him.

    As Secretary for the Republican majority and minority under three different leadership offices, Dave has been the eyes and ears on the floor for Republican leaders going back more than a decade. He has also been our chief diplomat to the other side. He has answered a million questions from all of us at all hours, always with the same tact, wicked sense of humor, and sharp mind that has made him not just an indispensable help to our conference but also the kind of guy we just like having around this place. I know I am speaking for everybody when I say that.

    When I announced Dave's departure to the leadership team earlier this week, the entire room, Senators and staff, erupted in applause. I assure you it was not because folks were glad to see him go. There is just nobody you would rather be with, in a foxhole or just killing time on the Senate floor, than Dave.

    [[Page S6142]] Dave had a pretty illustrious career before he got the big office up on the third floor. Prior to joining the Senate as a cloakroom assistant at the tender age of 21, legend has it he did stints as a bartender--that was while he was in college--and as a hot dog vendor out on the National Mall during summers in high school. As far as I know, these are the only two jobs outside the Senate Dave has ever had. Somehow they turned out to be great preparation for this place. I am not exactly sure why that is, but I am sure we could all come up with some interesting theories about that.

    So Dave came here right out of college, back when there were no cameras on the floor, just a radio. His job back then was basically to perform the role of play-by-play announcer, telling offices what was happening out here on the floor, matching the voices with names, and just letting everybody know where things stood at all times. I wanted to have a poster out here with a photo of Dave from those days, but all the photos have mysteriously somehow disappeared. Someone suggested it might have something to do with the fact that Dave sported a pretty serious eighties mustache back then. Maybe Cheryl can dig up that good photo from the family collection.

    In 1994, Dave moved out of the cloakroom and onto the floor as Republican floor assistant. Two years after that, he was named Assistant Secretary for the majority and 2 weeks before 9/11, in August 2001, Senator Lott named him Secretary for the majority. Since then, the two parties have swung back and forth a couple of times, but Dave has been one of the constants--smoothing out all the rough edges during a thousand legislative fights, providing indispensable strategic advice to me and to the rest of our conference, and just generally keeping everybody on both sides informed of everything that is going on out here.

    It is not easy. It is not easy telling Senators they will not get an amendment they have been fighting for or that they have to wait. But Dave has always had the perfect temperament for that job.

    Nobody on Earth--nobody--knows more about Senate precedent and procedure than Dave Schiappa, and nobody wears their knowledge and skill more lightly.

    So we are going to miss him a lot. We will all miss his ``Davisms,'' whether he is reporting that some Senator just showed up in the cloakroom ``in a three-point stance'' or that the week is shaping up to be a ``nothing burger.'' Those are Davisms.

    He will take some secrets, hopefully, with him. It will forever remain a mystery, for example, how Dave stuffs all of those cards into his suit coat pocket. Ask Dave a question about anything and he will have the answer written on some card inside his coat. The secrets of the Senate are contained on those cards.

    They say there are no indispensable men, though many of us have long suspected that Dave is the exception. I guess we will soon find out.

    Dave, thanks for all you have done for all of us and for your devotion to the institution. I know how much the Senate means to you personally and we all appreciate how much you have given to it over the years. Some folks complain about the hours and the unpredictable schedule around here, but Dave has us all beat. He is not only here whenever we are, he is here after the lights go out, finishing up the business of the day, sending out e-mails, tying up loose ends or ``loose tarps,'' as he might put it. We are all glad you will finally have a little predictability in your life.

    Which brings me to my last point which is almost, actually, the most important. Nobody who has a family can handle this place without an understanding spouse. So I want to thank Cheryl for putting up with this place over the last 23 years. Dave tells the story that early on in their marriage, Cheryl got Dave tickets to a show at the Kennedy Center for his birthday. When he called to tell her something had come up and he couldn't make it, she didn't know what he was talking about. Dave explained that he was stuck and there just wasn't anything he could do about it; it is just how the Senate works. It was the last time she questioned his job or his schedule.

    So as much as I am here to thank Dave today, I want to thank Cheryl. I want Cheryl to know we are grateful to her for all the sacrifices she has made over the years for Dave and their family.

    Ask Dave why he has been here so long and he will tell you it is the people, but the truth is Dave is one of the best this place has ever seen. I have no doubt about it.

    Dave, on behalf of the entire Senate family, thanks for everything. You will be missed.

    I see my friend the majority leader. Let me call up a resolution before his comments and then we will move on.


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