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Heidi H.
Democrat ND

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  • Tributes to Departing Senators

    by Senator Heidi Heitkamp

    Posted on 2014-12-10

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    HEITKAMP. Mr. President, I rise today to honor my friend and colleague from South Dakota, Senator Tim Johnson, who is retiring at end of this year. Tim has an impressively long career in public service, representing his home State of South Dakota in Congress for the last 28 years.

    Tim is often described as ``a work horse, not a show horse,'' and with good reason. His values, passion and work ethic are reflected in the projects he has championed and the constituent services he has provided for the people of South Dakota. Following his AVM in 2006, Senator Johnson came into the national spotlight which he so seldom sought. All were inspired by his perseverance and dedication to the people of South Dakota to return to do the work he loves, and the Senate has been better for it.

    As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Tim championed important water projects to bring clean drinking water to rural communities and Indian reservations, pressed for the development of renewable fuels, and supported efforts to build vital infrastructure throughout rural America. Through his position on the Appropriations Committee, he fought to see these efforts through from planning to completion.

    Farmers and ranchers throughout his State could count on Tim to be a strong voice for agriculture, advancing their priorities in numerous farm bills. His leadership on country of origin labeling, COOL, laid important groundwork to support our Nation's producers and ensure consumers know where their food comes from--a fight that continues today.

    Tim has also been a champion for veterans, working to improve the benefits they are owed and connecting South Dakota veterans with support and services in their communities. He was able to secure advanced appropriations for the Veterans Administration, providing budget certainty and ensuring access to health care for those who have so bravely served their country.

    Tim has a strong relationship with the tribes in South Dakota and is considered a steadfast and valued friend in Indian Country. He has tirelessly pressed for the Federal Government to meet its treaty and trust responsibilities. While significant challenges remain, Tim Johnson's legacy as an advocate for Native American issues has improved the quality of life on many reservations. This commitment will be missed both in the Senate and on the Indian Affairs Committee.

    Senator Johnson brought his passion for rural and Native American issues to the Senate Banking Committee. Under his chairmanship, the work of the committee highlighted the often-overlooked needs in these communities--and he was a champion during our efforts on housing finance reform to make sure they could receive the resources they so desperately need. Strengthening small community banks, improving housing, and reauthorizing critical highway and transit programs are just a few of the initiatives Chairman Johnson undertook, and it was a pleasure working under his leadership.

    Throughout all of these accomplishments, accolades, and challenges, Tim has remained true to his roots. He has never taken his public service for granted and has always considered it a privilege to serve the people of South Dakota. The impact of his work during his time in Congress will be seen in communities throughout his State for years to come, and he has certainly left his mark on South Dakota politics. I wish him the very best as he and his wife Barbara embark on this new chapter and get to enjoy more time with their family back in South Dakota.

    Mike Johanns Mr. President, I also wish to honor my colleague from Nebraska, Senator Mike Johanns, who is retiring from the Senate at the end of this year. Senator Johanns has been a friend since I started in the Senate, and I appreciate his willingness to work with me towards our shared goals. He is one of only two current Senators to have served as a Governor and cabinet Secretary, providing him with a tremendous amount of wisdom on how to get things done. It is his incredible knowledge and strong Midwestern work ethic that I admire most about him.

    For more than 30 years, Senator Johanns has been a strong voice for the people of Nebraska. His first act in public service was in 1983 as a County Board member in Lancaster County. He later went on to serve as both Councilman and Mayor of Lincoln. He would eventually become Governor of Nebraska and Secretary of Agriculture under President George W. Bush. Senator Johanns set no limits to his potential; readily serving in any capacity he could to make our great Nation a better place.

    Senator Johanns and I serve together on the Agriculture Committee and I greatly admired the thoughtfulness and expertise he brought to the negotiations on the Farm Bill. His knowledge as a former Agriculture Secretary was unmatched and ensured many improvements were made throughout the debate. Senator Johanns never forgot about our farmers and always kept his eye on providing them with the best possible outcome he could.

    We also had the privilege of working together on the Banking and Housing Committee. He and I worked together with a bipartisan group of committee members to draft and advance legislation reforming the housing finance system to protect the American taxpayer from another bailout and to guarantee that another housing crisis does not happen again. Once again, his voice on behalf of rural America during these talks was critical and something that I greatly appreciated.

    Senator Johanns has never been about taking credit or seeking the spotlight. He maintained a strong, hard work ethic throughout his time in the Senate and was one who was willing to cross the aisle to get things done. The American people expect that of their representatives, and Senator Johanns met those expectations on behalf of Nebraska.

    I will miss having him as my colleague in the Senate, but I also know that his wife and family will enjoy the free time they will have with him. I wish him happiness and success in the next chapter of his life.


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