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Richard D.
Democrat IL

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  • Congratulating Senator Patrick Leahy on 40 Years in the U.s. Senate

    by Senator Richard J. Durbin

    Posted on 2015-01-07

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    DURBIN. Mr. President, 40 years ago this week, a young prosecutor from Vermont was sworn into the Senate. He was part of a historic group of lawmakers often referred to as the ``Watergate babies.'' Today that man is President pro tempore emeritus as well as the most senior Member of the Senate. It is an honor to serve with him and to recognize Senator Patrick Leahy for reaching this historic milestone.

    Patrick Leahy remains the youngest Senator--and the only Democratic Senator--ever sent to this body by the people of his home State of Vermont. But that is not what makes Patrick Leahy exceptional. What makes him exceptional is the fact that he is a consensus builder--a thoughtful man committed to making government work better. It has been a privilege for me to work closely with Senator Leahy serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    As a member of that committee since 1979 and for many years as chairman, Senator Leahy made a profound mark on America's system of justice. He has voted on the nominations of every sitting member of the U.S. Supreme Court. He has fought to preserve the balance between liberty and security during especially difficult times. Senator Leahy has also fought to make America's respect for human rights a cornerstone of our Nation's foreign policy. He has been a leader in the global effort to ban antipersonnel landmines. He championed the ``Leahy Law'' to prevent U.S. tax dollars from benefiting human rights abusers abroad. He was a leader in recent efforts to free U.S. citizen Alan Gross from a Cuban jail and in the modernization of our Nation's policy toward that island.

    One last point, Pat Leahy is also, almost certainly, the biggest ``Dead Head'' in the Senate. Twenty years ago, he invited his good friend, Jerry Garcia--the lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead--to join him for lunch here in the Capitol. Two other members of the band came, too: drummer Mickey Hart and bass player Phil Lesh. As one might imagine, this unusual foursome created a bit of a stir in the Senate Dining Room. Then in walked Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Ever the bridgebuilder, Senator Leahy walked over to Senator Thurmond and said: ``Please join us. There's someone I want you to meet.'' It is a story worth pondering as we begin the 114th Congress. If we could all be so open to creating unlikely alliances, there is no telling what we might achieve in the next 2 years.

    Again, I thank my friend Senator Leahy on his 40 years of service to the people of Vermont, America, and to the great causes that face our generation.

    Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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