Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act of 2014—Continuedby Former Senator Mark Begich
Posted on 2014-12-11
BEGICH. I wish to echo all the comments people said today, but I
have to be honest. When I was elected, I was scared of Mary. People
said very politely that you should check with Mary to see if she has an
issue with something. I was terrified of what people told me she would
do if I was not on her side.
If you remember, when I came in, we doubled the oil and gas caucus in the Democratic caucus by me just joining, and so we had an immediate connection, which was unique in itself. Our connection was not just that, but also, as Mary mentioned, her mentor, Lindy Boggs, and our family knows the Boggses very well.
I can still remember a call I got when I won my mayor's race in 2003 from this woman in Louisiana. My staff came in and said some woman from Louisiana is calling, and we don't know who she is, but she wants to talk to you, and so I said, OK. I took the phone call, and it was Lindy Boggs. You know how she would start a conversation with ``Hi, darlin', I just want to check in with you and see how you are doing, and congratulations.'' Then she said, ``One moment, someone is at my door.'' She came back and said, ``The exterminator is here,'' and that is classic Lindy Boggs.
What was so real about her--and I can see it in Mary's style--and that is she is real. The work Mary has done--and I didn't know it until I came to the Senate--for foster kids and adoption is remarkable. Amy Klobuchar went into great detail about that, and it shows that it is not always about the policy and fights on the floor here, but there is so much that individuals do outside this Chamber. What Mary has done outside of the Chamber is to use this position to make a difference for young people, and that is powerful. As Mary has said, we fight over policies and issues, but every one of those young people has been touched in some way. I guarantee--and I am sure you have seen it over the years where someone might come up to you and say, I don't know if you remember me, and then they tell you the story of how you met them when they were a foster kid and just getting adopted or when you were at one of the ceremonies or one of the events they were at. Those are the things I will remember about you.
The tenacity that people talked about--there is no question about it. I was glad when I got on the Appropriations Committee because I thought, finally, I will be on there with someone who will chew it up with me, and I just had to hang on to your coattails when you were fighting on issues.
When we sat in on those leadership meetings on Tuesday morning, I was always thankful when you came in. You were right across from me. I don't know if they all figured it out--maybe, again, as I said, it is a little bit of confession--we had our signals, or maybe eye contact, and then we went to work. You were really incredible.
When you were in caucus--and many people don't see those, except as Members--you were always passionate about what was important to Louisiana. You never forgot what was important to Louisiana.
People made the comment that you are tenacious. I would say that any time something did move in the Congress, you were a part of it in some way. When we were trying to figure out how to fix the health care bill, you were right there. You didn't hesitate. You knew it was a hot potato, but it was also something that we knew we had to make better, not just for people but for decades to come. You were not afraid of that even though you said you knew it could cost you your election because you knew generationally it would have an impact.
It wasn't about the moment, it was about 10, 15, 20 years, you could look back and say you helped make that happen, and you did, every time you tried to move in and push an item or idea. Even though we will not be serving here, you will have an impact.
I could tell, as we were shaking hands here, it was amazing to watch you, you never stop. You were already talking to each person about the work they need to be doing. When I shook your hand, you were talking about fisheries. I am like, Mary, just relax. But you are already working it, and that is what is so unique about you. You will not be in this body, but you will be in this body because of the way you do your work. It is not about being in this office, it is about caring about Louisiana, and as I said, I saw it just in this last moment here. It is unbelievable. You will never give up on the people of Louisiana because you care so deeply.
It has been an honor to know you.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.