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Susan C.
Republican ME

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  • Tribute to Priscilla Hobson Hanley

    by Senator Susan M. Collins

    Posted on 2015-12-14

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    COLLINS. Mr. President, I wish to commemorate the contributions of Priscilla Hobson Hanley, who is retiring after more than 30 years of distinguished public service as staff in the U.S. Congress.

    Since the very beginning of my service in the Senate nearly 19 years ago, Priscilla has been one of my most valued advisers. She has always provided me with expertise on health care issues and Social Security, and most recently, she has served as staff director for the Senate Aging Committee. She exemplifies the ideal public servant; integrity, thoroughness, a spirit of inquiry, and hard work characterize her service. Above all, Priscilla has always demonstrated her belief that it is an honor to serve the people of Maine and our Nation.

    I first met Priscilla in 1984 when we both worked for Maine Senator Bill Cohen. After brief stints working in the House for two Congressmen from her native California, Priscilla was hired by Senator Cohen that year and developed an in-depth knowledge of health care issues. She became deputy staff director of the Aging Committee when Senator Cohen served as chairman.

    When I assumed Senator Cohen's seat in 1997, Priscilla was one of the very first people I hired; thus I had a terrific expert in two subject areas of great concern to my Maine constituents: health care and senior issues. As health policy adviser and legislative assistant, Priscilla brought her intelligence and experience to bear on the complex and myriad issues of health care, biomedical research, access to care in rural areas, women's health, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Through her leadership role on the Aging Committee staff, she advanced our priorities of improving retirement security, increasing funding for research on diseases like Alzheimer's and diabetes, and protecting against scams targeting seniors.

    Three examples illustrate Priscilla's commitment to service. In 1997, my very first year in the Senate, we were considering a massive tax bill. At the last minute, a one-sentence provision appeared out of nowhere that was, beneath the innocuous wording, a $50-billion tax giveaway to Big Tobacco. Priscilla spotted that one sentence in the 327-page bill, and we were able to put an end to the subsidy.

    Priscilla also helped me start the Diabetes Caucus in the Senate in 1998. As a result of her dedication, funding for diabetes research has tripled since that year.

    In 2003, our Nation was still reeling from the attacks of 9/11, and Congress was working on a tax-cut bill to invigorate the struggling economy. A key to the success of that bill and to the economic rebound that followed was the temporary increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or FMAP, to help States provide health care to low-income families. Priscilla led the way in developing that key provision.

    From dramatic increases in funding for diabetes and Alzheimer's research to improvements in rural health care and advancements in mental health parity, Priscilla has played a leadership role. Her work, due to her unassuming nature, may often be unheralded, but her legacy is inspiring to all of us who serve.

    When not working for the American people, Priscilla's great passion is a love of musical theater. In fact, a rare interruption in her more than three decades of service on the Hill came when she took a brief respite from Congress to help run an opera company in Virginia.

    Priscilla has a particular fondness for the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan, and like Major General Stanley of The Pirates of Penzance, she has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things ``vegetable, animal, and mineral.'' She truly is the very model of a modern Senate staffer, a model all should emulate.

    A life so devoted to public service brings to mind the parable of the talents. The master, leaving on a journey, entrusts a servant with a portion of his treasure. Upon his return, the master is delighted to find that his wealth was been wisely invested and multiplied.

    Priscilla Hobson Hanley was entrusted the great treasure of intelligence, energy, and passion. She invested that treasure wisely and through hard work and determination multiplied its benefits to all. To her, I quote Scripture and say, ``Well done, good and faithful servant.'' ____________________

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