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Thomas H.
Former Democrat IA
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    Tribute to Adrienne Hallett

    by Former Senator Tom Harkin

    Posted on 2014-12-13

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    HARKIN. Mr. President, the omnibus appropriations bill that the Senate approved today includes the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies bill. Or, as we like to refer to it, the Labor-HHS bill. Most people didn't think that would happen. They thought Labor-HHS was too controversial. There was no way the Senate and House could work out a compromise on this bill. But we did, and as the Senate clerk of the Labor-HHS bill, Adrienne Hallett is the staffer who deserves the greatest credit. More than any other staffer, the burden of completing this bill fell on her. Despite what so many people expected, she made it happen.

    Adrienne has been an outstanding staff director of my Labor-HHS subcommittee. She has served the Appropriations Committee and the Senate extraordinarily well during her 15 years of Senate service. I believe she will continue to serve it well after my term expires. I think a bit of background will help you understand why I have this view.

    First of all, Adrienne has strong Iowa roots. She hails from Cedar Rapids, where her mom still lives and enjoys the company of dozens of relatives throughout the State. Her father left us too soon after a battle with ALS ended over a decade ago. However, before his untimely death he had already helped Adrienne develop a strongly held view on service and a can-do spirit that propels her forward in pursuit of solutions to challenges that seemingly can't be overcome. He also had already supported Adrienne in her pursuit of higher education.

    That higher education started with a degree in philosophy from the University of Northern Iowa, UNI. Now, you might say that such a degree is perfect for the ponderous Senate. What I have noticed is that the ethical decisionmaking skills she honed there have enabled her to more effectively find agreements that help the Senate and Congress advance good public policy. I will discuss some of that policy in a moment.

    After earning her degree from UNI she went on to divinity school at Vanderbilt University, where she earned a master's degree and then went on to work for the Vice Chancellor for Health at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Fortunately for me, Adrienne did not stay long before she joined my staff in Washington, DC in 1999.

    Adrienne quickly demonstrated what an asset she was to me through her hard work and dedication to serving my Iowa constituents. I realized she could help me serve them and all Americans even better by joining my labor-HHS subcommittee staff which she agreed to do in 2001.

    Now, I frequently am thanked and recognized for the things I have done as one of Iowa's Senators and in my role leading the labor-HHS subcommittee. What most people don't always know is the role that Adrienne Hallett has played in helping make those accomplishments a reality.

    I think of community health centers from Clinton to Council Bluffs. That is thousands of families in Iowa receiving critical medical care they need to stay healthy or recover from injury or illness.

    There is the Job Corps Center in Ottumwa that will give hundreds of youth another chance at education and training that will enable them to be self-sufficient and positively contribute to society.

    There is the National Civilian Community Corps campus in Vinton. Hundreds of young men and women are being trained for service projects in local communities throughout the North Central region of the United States.

    I could go on and on in naming centers and programs around Iowa where someone has thanked me for something that Adrienne helped make possible. But it is not just Iowa that has benefitted from her service.

    It is also the expansion of community health centers throughout the United States. There are millions of families being served by those centers.

    Something so close to my heart is the significant role she has played in advancing public health systems in the United States and throughout the world. These all are things where I am recognized for something Adrienne helped make possible.

    Adrienne, I join with the entire Senate family in thanking you for your outstanding service and offering best wishes to you for the future.


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