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Republican SD

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  • Tribute to Dave Schwietert

    by Senator John Thune

    Posted on 2015-12-17

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    THUNE. Mr. President, I rise today to honor my commerce committee staff director, Dave Schwietert, who is leaving the Hill after almost 16 years of service here in the Senate.

    Earlier in Dave's career, he worked for the late Senator Craig Thomas, and for the past 11 years, Dave has worked on my staff, serving his home State of South Dakota. He started with me as a staffer on the Environment and Public Works Committee when I first arrived in the Senate. After leaving the Environment and Public Works Committee, I was lucky enough to have Dave serve as my legislative director for 6 years. When I became ranking member of the commerce committee, Dave came over as minority staff director, a position in which he served 2 years before becoming majority staff director this year.

    Dave is the kind of staffer you always hope to get as a Member. He has a brilliant mind. His memory for the most arcane details of any policy is almost legendary. In fact, if you look up ``policy wonk'' in the dictionary, you probably would find a picture of Dave Schwietert-- and I say that with the greatest amount of affection. He has a deep dedication to his work. Over the years, I have relied on his intellect and dedication more times than I can count.

    Those aren't the only things that distinguish Dave as a staff director. One of the things I appreciate the most about Dave is his commitment to helping younger staff members develop their abilities. That is a great quality around here where oftentimes people have a hard time learning how to delegate and learning how to bring younger staff members along. His patience and his teaching ability are well known, and staffers who work under Dave come away with sophisticated analytical skills and a deep understanding of the issues.

    The commerce committee has had a lot of successes this year, most notably passage of two major pieces of legislation--the Surface Transportation Board reauthorization bill and the first long-term highway bill in a decade. Dave Schwietert was a key figure in each of those accomplishments.

    We have known for a long time that the Surface Transportation Board needed to work better, and Dave really has been working on this reauthorization since I first became a member of the commerce committee. This year we were finally able to get it done. Dave can leave the Senate with the knowledge that legislation he helped enact will permanently improve things for all those American farmers and businesses that rely on our Nation's rail system to get their goods to the marketplace.

    This year's landmark Transportation bill, which will strengthen our Nation's infrastructure and boost our economy for years to come, was a product of a tremendous amount of work on multiple committees. In the commerce committee, we developed the bill's extensive safety title, and Dave was once again a key figure in that process. I am particularly proud of the fact that we managed to move from a party-line vote on the commerce title to strong bipartisan support when we were done. In fact, when it cleared the Senate, it was with 83 votes. Dave deserves tremendous amounts of credit for that. His ability to build consensus among Members and staff of both parties is a huge reason we were able to pass a long-term transportation bill this year.

    Another thing I always appreciated about Dave is his commitment to South Dakota. Like me, Dave is a proud South Dakota native. In fact, he comes from western South Dakota, Rapid City. I am a western South Dakota product. In fact, in South Dakota you are either East River or West River, and we both come from West River.

    Throughout his time on the commerce committee, he has never forgotten about the needs of South Dakota families, farmers, and businesses. It has always been forefront in his mind. I am grateful for that. I know there are a lot of South Dakotans who are grateful for the bills he helped pass. Dave's work will have a tremendously positive impact on South Dakota for many years to come.

    Mr. President, while it is difficult to overstate how much Dave will be [[Page S8756]] missed around here, I am happy he has found an exciting new opportunity. It has been said that lightning never strikes twice, but as in so many other things, Dave breaks the mold on this one as well. In fact, he was struck by lightning not once, not twice, but three times while on a rock climbing trip, but that hasn't discouraged him, and I, for one, am grateful for that commitment and tenacity.

    My thanks also goes out to his wife Sandra, his son Evan, and his daughter Lauren for allowing me to keep their husband and father here many times late into the evening.

    I know I speak for a lot of people when I say that Dave will be deeply missed, but he should know he goes forward with respect and the gratitude of many and the warmest wishes for all his future endeavors.

    Mr. President, I yield the floor.

    I suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Hoeven). The clerk will call the roll.

    The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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