Thanking Senator Conradby Senator Jeff Sessions
Posted on 2013-01-02
SESSIONS. I am so pleased to see that Senator Conrad is here,
that I could follow him. I had another subject I wanted to speak about,
an important subject. But it is very important for all Americans to
know how well he has served.
Senator Conrad is one of the very small group of people in this country who understands the debt challenges we face. He has been on the debt commission. He has been the budget chairman. He staked his first election on dealing with these issues, as he has explained to us. I truly believe if he had a little more support, maybe, from his caucus and others, his vision could have been a real part of the solution we would make to this debt crisis. We are not that far apart when you consider the true challenges this Nation faces financially.
I remember a little over 2 years ago now, when the Senator called the debt commission cochairman, Erskine Bowles before the budget committee. He gave a speech and written testimony, which said this Nation has never faced a more predictable financial crisis. I remember the Senator asked the cochairman when we might have this financial crisis if we don't change our ways. He replied, it could be 2 years, as close as 2 years. That was 2 years ago, over 2 years ago now.
I think, Senator Conrad, we have maybe gotten a little overconfident. People were telling us we were on an unsustainable course, we were facing a potential crisis, the Rogoff and Reinhart book came out and said that our debt reaches 90 percent of GDP, and all that was discussed and we had a lot of excitement about it, and we did not act. We did not act in a significant way.
In times gone by, maybe people thought the crisis is never going to happen, but I think the Senator agrees the potential for it to happen is just as real, if not more so, than it was 2 years ago.
I want to say this. We did not always agree. The Senator didn't always agree [[Page S8647]] with my views and I understand that. But the Senator allowed the minority on the committee to have its voice heard, to ask our questions, and the Senator called some great hearings. We had some of the best minds in the country provide testimony before the budget committee. The Senator allowed and called the administration witnesses and we were able to examine them about how they were managing the country's money. The Senator allowed that to happen in the great tradition of the Senate where we have open debate and honest questioning. The Senator was always a perfect gentleman, and always able, as I think the Presiding Officer would acknowledge, to give a little levity to a tense situation. The Senator has a great sense of humor that really endeared him to me.
So I will say to Senator Conrad, thank you for your service. I believe every member of the budget committee, Republican and Democrat, appreciated the Senator's leadership. I know they did. I know the staff also respected the Senator's leadership. We had a great time working with the Senator's professional team. The Senator served his country exceedingly well dealing with the greatest issue we face today, our financial debt situation. I hope and I am confident the Senator will remain active, that he will not be silent, that he will provide continual input and advice to the Members of Congress as we wrestle with these tough issues.