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Debbie S.
Democrat MI

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  • Tributes to Departing Senators

    by Senator Debbie Stabenow

    Posted on 2015-01-02

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    STABENOW. Mr. President, I also wish to pay tribute to a man I have admired throughout my career in this Chamber, Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota. I am proud to call Tim my friend.



    Long before Senator Johnson and I crossed paths in the Senate, we were both studying at Michigan State University--I was an undergrad while Senator Johnson was doing postgraduate studies. In fact, his parents retired in the East Lansing area. I know that Senator Johnson considers the University of South Dakota to be his alma mater, but I will always think of him as a fellow Spartan.

    All of us here are committed to public service, to defending the Constitution and to protecting our Nation against foreign threats, but few of us have had our commitment tested as Senator Johnson has.

    In 2004 Senator Johnson learned that he had prostate cancer, but he was determined to beat it and to continue representing the people of South Dakota. ``I wish this was something that wasn't happening to me,'' he said. ``But I will deal with it head on,'' and he did. He had surgery, then he made a full recovery, and was soon back to work.

    In 2006 we were all shocked to learn that Senator Johnson suffered a brain hemorrhage--and for weeks we hoped and prayed for him and his family. Incredibly, he again made a full recovery--and he again came back to work.

    That is commitment. That is a Senator with a deep appreciation for the privilege of serving the people of South Dakota. That is Tim Johnson Despite the personal health issues Senator Johnson experienced, he succeeded in leading passage of the Safe and Fair Deposit Insurance Act of 2005, a law that 3 years later was critical to keeping America's deposits safe during a time of great economic turmoil. As chair of the Senate banking committee we have relied on his leadership and judgment in reducing risk in the financial sector and in ensuring that Dodd- Frank reforms were implemented effectively.

    I will miss our work together to improve the health care of American veterans, and I will miss the opportunity I have had through the years to work with Senator Johnson on empowering small family farms to compete in the modern marketplace and to help ethanol producers expand their place in our Nation's renewable energy future.

    Knowing how important it was for ranchers to be able to tell consumers their meat products came from the U.S.A., Senator Johnson has been a champion of country of origin labeling since going back to the 2002 farm bill, and since then he has helped to strengthen and fully implement the law, a mission that carried over to the 2014 farm bill that I authored as chair of the agriculture committee.

    In addition, Senator Johnson has been a forceful advocate for the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration rules that ensure that family farmers and ranchers are able to compete on a level playing field.

    I know how much Senator Johnson has loved policymaking, so I know he must have agonized over this decision. But I also know that the love and devotion he has for his family comes first, and now he will be able to spend more time with his wife Barbara, his two sons, his daughter, and all his grandchildren.

    Tim, thank you for being such a strong, resilient, and resourceful partner and friend through the years. I wish you a happy and successful retirement with your family.

    Mary Landrieu Mr. President, at the end of this session of Congress, the Senate will be bidding farewell to my colleague and dear friend, Senator Mary Landrieu, who has served the people of Louisiana with such devotion over the last 18 years.

    I don't think it is possible to overstate the magnitude of the challenges that she has faced on behalf of her constituents. Hurricane Katrina may have been the most horrible natural disaster our country has ever experienced--and Senator Landrieu's native city of New Orleans was ground zero.

    No one was more engaged in the recovery effort that followed that calamity. Senator Landrieu fought tenaciously to secure the funds it would take to repair and revitalize the gulf coast with infrastructure improvements that would protect the coast against another major event.

    In the 10 years since Katrina, Senator Landrieu has been a champion for homeowners who were struggling to afford flood insurance, most recently by winning passage of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, this past March.

    Of course, just as the gulf coast appeared close to making a full recovery, it was struck by another disaster--the Deepwater Horizon oilspill. Again, Senator Landrieu was on the vanguard of that recovery, winning passage of the RESTORE Act so that the vast majority of the fines collected by the U.S. Government would go back to the gulf coast to help pay for the cleanup. It is the single biggest investment in environmental restoration in American history.

    These were the moments when the people of Louisiana needed Mary Landrieu most--and she delivered as only she can.

    At the same time, Senator Landrieu has always understood that the oil and gas industry is vital to her State's economy, and so it was a major milestone when she became the first woman to chair the Senate energy committee.

    She fights so hard for Louisiana, but over the years of working with her, I have learned how much she is driven by a deep feeling of compassion, not just [[Page S6938]] for those displaced by hurricanes or those whose livelihood was jeopardized by the Deepwater Horizon but for the children of her State and our country who were given up for adoption or placed in foster care.

    Senator Landrieu knows the joys of adopting firsthand, having adopted her two children, Connor and Mary Shannon, and she wants other parents to feel that joy. So she sympathizes with parents who wish to adopt a child but who are struggling to do so--especially since she knows there are children desperate for parents but who remain wards of the State. By matching those parents with that child, she knows that she can create a true family.

    So she has led the efforts in the Senate to improve child welfare systems internationally and to make it easier for American parents to adopt children in other countries. She has pushed for Federal funds to create foster care mentoring programs, so that children who are in the foster system have better guidance during the most critical years of their social development.

    I know I speak for other Members of this Chamber when I say that we will do our very best to continue the momentum that Senator Landrieu has created for finding a permanent, loving home for every American child.

    I will deeply miss having her with us but I have absolutely no doubt that Mary Landrieu will find new ways to express her devotion to the people of Louisiana and our country. It is not just a tradition in her family; it is her singular passion. I thank her for her amazing service here and I look forward to all the great achievements that are in her future.

    Mark Udall Mr. President, I wish to express my gratitude to a dear colleague and friend who has been a champion for our national parks and for preserving the natural splendor of our Western lands: Senator Mark Udall.

    Just as the Great Lakes are part of my DNA, the Rocky Mountains are part of Senator Udall's. He likes to quote the saying that we did not inherit this earth from our parents but that we are borrowing it from our children--and that is the perspective that has guided him as Chair of the Senate National Parks Subcommittee.

    He has worked to expand national parks and to revitalize our natural resources. Recognizing that our dependence on fossil fuels poses a threat to our land, water and wildlife, Senator Udall has been a leader in pushing for investments in renewable energy. I know how proud he was that Colorado was the first State to pass a voter-approved renewable energy policy. A key to making it happen was Senator Udall teaming up in a bipartisan way with the speaker of the Colorado House.

    When Colorado was struck by floods, forest fires, and beetle infestations, Senator Udall fought to make sure the State had the Federal resources to contain the damage and aid the recovery.

    We learn a lot about our leaders during a time of crisis, and time and again, Senator Udall has proven the strength of his character and his convictions.

    In the wake of the mass shooting in Aurora, CO, Senator Udall threw his support behind a ban on combat weapons, as well as an amendment to expand background searches for gun purchases. It was a bold position to take politically, but the Udall family has a long tradition of taking bold positions whose wisdom is borne out by history: His grandfather issued a court decision that recognized Native Americans' right to vote; his uncle challenged discrimination by Washington's football team; and his father helped integrate the University of Arizona.

    It is fitting that in Senator Udall's last full week with the Senate he gave a stirring speech on the floor, demanding transparency in the way that our Nation treats suspected terrorists. Senator Udall has also been one of the Senate's most vocal advocates for civil liberties, arguing passionately that our government's conduct must always respect both our values and the Constitution.

    Personally, I have had the honor of working alongside Senator Udall as co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Parkinson's Disease, teaming up on behalf of the National MS and Parkinson's Disease Registries Act. This past month we joined forces on an amendment that ensures women in the military will have access to quality health services, with a specific focus on maternity and preventive care.

    I will miss our talks and our collaborations. But leaving the Senate will allow Senator Udall to become an even more avid outdoorsman. While he has already climbed Mt. Everest and the 100 tallest peaks in his home State of Colorado, I have no doubt that he will soon conquer new and exciting challenges in the great outdoors.

    And from listening to his farewell address, it is already apparent to me that Senator Udall has achieved a clarity that will serve him forever after. ``As a lifelong mountain climber,'' he said, ``I have learned far more from the mountains I did not summit, than those that I did.'' I know I speak for many of us here when I say that I have learned a great deal from Senator Udall, and I thank him for serving Colorado and our Nation in the U.S. Senate--and for being a great friend. Happy trails, Senator.

    kay hagan Mr. President, I also wish to pay tribute to my dear friend and colleague, Senator Kay Hagan from North Carolina.

    Kay Hagan has quite a collection of hats. There is the hat she wore as a lawyer in Greensboro. She wore one hat as a banker, another as a State legislator helping to write North Carolina's State budget. And when she excelled in each of these roles, the voters of North Carolina gave her another hat to wear, as their U.S. Senator.

    Kay Hagan joined us in January 2009, which was a difficult time for our Nation's economy. With her background in the banking sector and her knowledge of the housing finance system, she got right to work on rebuilding our economy, with a stronger foundation.

    At the same time, she never allowed herself to be distracted from the needs specific to her North Carolina constituents. She recognized that North Carolina workers and small businesses were being threatened by unfair trade practices abroad, and she sought to address it.

    She recognizes how vital military bases are to North Carolina's economy and to its culture, so she worked to protect them from cuts and closures. She was a leader for military families who care for disabled children, seeking to provide payments for them from the Survivor Benefit Plan. And it was Senator Hagan who stepped up to help families at Camp Lejeune get access to health care, following one of the worst cases of water contamination in American history.

    With two daughters of her own, Senator Hagan knows about the demands of balancing child care with a career, and as Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families, she called attention to the need for paid leave. Senator Hagan and I share important health care priorities: She cosponsored a bill to improve the care of mothers and babies by establishing higher quality standards for maternity care through Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. And she has been a valuable ally on the HOPE for Alzheimer's Act, which would help doctors detect this disease earlier and provide more support for those taking care of a family member with Alzheimer's.

    I had the distinct honor of teaming up with Senator Hagan earlier this year to help pork farmers get disaster assistance after a deadly virus devastated their livestock. And we worked together to sound the alarm on student loan debt and to try to stop interest rates on Federal loans from rising.

    We both come from States where hunting, fishing, and wildlife are important components to residents' quality of life. So I was pleased this past year to help Senator Hagan push for her Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act, which sought to expand access to Federal lands while taking significant steps toward conserving the land we use for recreation.

    I deeply regret that I will not be able to work with Senator Hagan in the next Congress. But knowing how dear public service is to her, and how deeply that tradition is established in her family, I have no doubt that she will find new ways to serve the people of her beloved home State, and our Nation.

    [[Page S6939]] Senator Hagan, thank you for your service and thank you for being a wonderful friend. I wish you the very best of luck in all your future endeavors. Mary Landrieu

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