Tributes to Departing Senatorsby Senator Jeanne Shaheen
Posted on 2014-12-16
SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I wish to pay tribute to my friend and
colleague, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, who will soon retire from
the Senate after representing his beloved West Virginia for the last 30
Senator Rockefeller and I both came to Washington after having previously served as Governors of our home States, and I have been grateful for his friendship and counsel. I would also note that Senator Rockefeller has some familiarity with New Hampshire, having graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy.
Senator Rockefeller will forever be remembered in the Senate for his dedication to the hard-working people of West Virginia. When West Virginia coal mining companies threatened to abandon their pension obligations to miners, Senator Rockefeller successfully fought to pass the Coal Act of 1992 to safeguard their retirements. Among his numerous other legislative accomplishments, Senator Rockefeller will certainly be remembered as the father of the Children's Health Insurance Program. Since its creation in 1997, CHIP has provided millions of low-income children and pregnant women access to health insurance. Just last year, CHIP touched the lives of more than 8 million Americans.
During his lengthy career Senator Rockefeller chaired the Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs, Intelligence, and most recently Commerce, Science, and Transportation. As a chairman, Senator Rockefeller believed strongly that good policy started with listening and ran his committees in a way that allowed all Senators, no matter their party, a voice and a role in the legislative process.
The example set by Senator Rockefeller is an inspiration to all of us who serve in the Senate. On behalf of the people of New Hampshire, I thank him for his years of dedicated service to our country and wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.
Carl Levin Mr. President, I wish to honor Senator Carl Levin as he prepares to retire after 36 years of dedicated service in the Senate.
As the longest serving Senator in Michigan's history, Senator Levin has been a stalwart advocate for the people of his State. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Senator Levin played a critical role in drafting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to ensure it would bolster the Midwestern manufacturers that would prove integral to our national economic recovery. As cochair of the Great Lakes Task Force, Senator Levin has worked throughout his career to protect the vast waterways that are critical to Michigan's economy and those of the other Great Lakes States.
I have had the honor of serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee under the leadership of Chairman Levin, and his concern for the people of Michigan is perhaps only matched by his concern for the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airman who defend our Nation, as well as the families who support them. Under his steady leadership the Senate has kept faith with our military by passing the annual National Defense Authorization Act, and this year's defense bill bears Senator Levin's name as tribute to his lengthy service on the Committee. As chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, I have always appreciated Senator Levin's commitment to a strong bipartisan spirit in the work of the committee, and I know it will endure thanks to his example.
A sharp legal mind, Senator Levin also worked in a bipartisan fashion as chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to hold powerful public and private institutions accountable. Born from the highly successful Truman Committee formed in the lead-up to World War II, Senator Levin's subcommittee investigated critical issues such as the 2008 financial crisis, systemic credit card fraud, as well as corporate abuse of off-shore tax havens--bringing light to complex and obscure issues to the benefit of the American people.
Senator Levin has been a source of reasoned counsel for many in the Senate, and I know his presence will be missed. However, I also know he is looking forward to spending some well-earned time back in Michigan with his children, grandchildren, and wife Barbara.
Tom Harkin Mr. President, I wish to recognize Senator Tom Harkin and his 30 years of Senate service.
When Senator Harkin retires at the end of this year, he will also step down from his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, a post from which he has advocated progressive policies [[Page S6914]] aimed at increasing opportunity for all Americans.
One of Senator Harkin's greatest legislative achievements is the Americans with Disabilities Act, legislation that he fought for on behalf of millions of disabled Americans. The ADA is truly a landmark law in this country, and Senator Harkin's decades of work on this issue will never be forgotten.
Senator Harkin also has a strong legacy as a champion for human rights, which began even before his election to public office while he was still a staffer on Capitol Hill. Invited to travel with a congressional delegation to Vietnam in the summer of 1970, Senator Harkin arranged for the group to visit the Con Son prison in order to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the South Vietnamese Government. At the prison, the delegation strayed from the official tour and found abused prisoners held in so-called ``tiger cages,'' which Senator Harkin documented extensively with a camera. In defiance of some of the delegation members, Senator Harkin courageously handed over the pictures to Life magazine in order to better educate the American public about U.S involvement in Vietnam.
I have been fortunate to witness firsthand Senator Harkin's passion for U.S. leadership in human rights during our service together on the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he has brought heightened attention to the scourge of child labor and exploitation. I know this is one particular issue on which Senator Harkin feels his work has just begun, and I look forward to hearing of his continued efforts on behalf of vulnerable children around the world.
On a more personal note, I will miss competing with Senator Harkin's office for the most staff participants in the Everybody Wins! DC reading mentorship program, a great cause in which Senator Harkin has been involved in for the last 16 years.
I join my colleagues in thanking Senator Harkin for his dedicated service in the Senate and wish him all the best in retirement.
Kay Hagan Mr. President, Senator Hagan and I came to the Senate 6 years ago with a shared commitment to bipartisan problem solving reflective of the independent spirit of the States we represent. I am glad to say that in Senator Hagan I found not only a strong partner in policymaking but also a good friend.
Born in Shelby, NC, Senator Hagan got her start in politics, as many of us do, at the State level. During 10 years in the North Carolina Senate, she built a reputation as a committed public servant, and that reputation would eventually propel her to the United States Senate.
In Washington, Senator Hagan has used her position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to support the military families stationed at Fort Bragg, Camp Lejune, and other military installations in North Carolina. Thanks to her efforts, Congress passed legislation in 2012 to provide health care and compensation to military families impacted by water contamination at Camp Lejune. Also a member of the small business committee, Senator Hagan's private sector experience has been a tremendous asset to the legislative work of the committee.
I would like to wish the very best to Senator Hagan, who I know is looking forward to the opportunity to spend more time with her family, especially her grandchildren.
Mark Udall Mr. President, I wish to take a moment to thank my friend and colleague Senator Mark Udall for his dedicated service to the people of Colorado and our Nation.
As many of my colleagues are aware, long before Senator Udall was climbing the steps to Capitol Hill he was hiking the mountains of Colorado as a course director and educator with Outward Bound, an organization he would eventually lead as executive director. However, as a member of the Udall family, headed by his father Congressman Morris ``Mo'' Udall, who served in the House of Representatives for 30 years, elected office was never far from Senator Udall's mind. After 20 years with Outward Bound, Senator Udall left to pursue a career in public service.
After serving a term in the Colorado State Legislature, Senator Udall ran successfully to represent Colorado's Second Congressional District in the House of Representatives, a seat he held for five consecutive terms. When we arrived at the Senate in 2008, Senator Udall and I found common cause in our work on both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Senator Udall's commitment to working across the aisle to confront the difficult issues facing our Nation was appreciated by many in the Senate, and I know his presence will be missed.
I wish the very best to Senator Udall and thank him for his service.
Mary Landrieu Mr. President, my friend from Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu has devoted her entire life to public service, and today I wish to recognize the extraordinary leadership and energy that she has brought to the Senate throughout her career.
Senator Landrieu has been a leader on so many issues, none more so than as a passionate advocate for children around the world. I was proud to work with her on legislation to address the decline in international adoptions, in addition to several other bills that Senator Landrieu has authored to support children both in the United States and in developing nations. This issue is particularly near to Senator Landrieu's heart, and I know I am speaking for countless children around the world when I thank her for her efforts to ensure all children experience the benefits of a safe and loving family.
I also had the pleasure of working with Senator Landrieu during her leadership of the Senate Small Business Committee, as well as on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Senator Landrieu has always fought hard for her home State of Louisiana, and her dedication to her constituents was made clear in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. All Americans vividly recall the scenes of destruction caused by the storm--more than 1,800 killed and $100 billion in property destroyed in just days. Those who were fortunate to escape the storm physically unscathed were more than likely left homeless, and over 80% of Senator Landrieu's hometown of New Orleans was under water for weeks after Katrina made landfall.
After the storm Senator Landrieu immediately set to work building support for legislation to jump start the gulf coast recovery and help her constituents put their lives back together. Senator Landrieu nearly singlehandedly pushed through critical funding and reforms to help Louisiana rebuild.
It has been an honor working with her, and I thank her for her years of service to the Senate and the Nation.
Mark Begich Mr. President, today I wish to recognize my fellow Senator from the class of 2008, Senator Mark Begich of Alaska.
Senator Begich's career in public service began earlier than most at the young age of 19, when he was hired by the Anchorage city health department. By that time, Senator Begich was also well on his way to establishing himself as an enterprising businessman and entrepreneur. Born and raised in Anchorage, AK, Mark Begich would go on to serve in the Anchorage Assembly where he was the youngest member ever elected, before successfully running for the post of mayor in 2003, a role in which he served until his election to the Senate.
Here in Washington Senator Begich has used his position as chair of the commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, as well as his extensive knowledge of the Alaska economy, to advocate for Alaska-first policies. As a Senator from a State with one of the highest populations of veterans per capita, Senator Begich has also been a passionate defender of our Nation's military. I also have had the pleasure of serving with Senator Begich on the Senate Appropriations Committee and have greatly appreciated his contributions.
I would like to thank Senator Begich for his years of dedicated service both to Alaska and the Nation.
Mark Pryor Mr. President, Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas has served the people of Arkansas in the Senate for the last 12 years, guided by his strong faith and [[Page S6915]] determination to bridge the partisan divide.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Pryor has successfully directed Federal assistance to his Arkansas constituents, helping to strengthen his State's economy. As a member of the commerce committee, he prioritized bringing broadband Internet service to the rural parts of Arkansas. When Senator Pryor served on the Senate Armed Services Committee, he successfully introduced and passed legislation to provide tax relief for our servicemembers deployed in combat zones, as well as legislation to more quickly inform military families when their loved ones are injured in combat.
Senator Pryor has time and again proved his dedication to the State where he was born and raised, and I wish to thank him for his service in the Senate.
Mike Johanns Mr. President, over three decades as a public servant, my friend and colleague Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska has proven time and time again that politicians can be deeply principled while still recognizing the need to find common ground on the complex and difficult choices we must make as a nation. I believe this is a lesson that all former Governors carry with them after holding executive office, and Senator Johanns and I were often able to reach an understanding on that basis.
Before coming to the Senate in 2009, Mike Johanns had already built a distinguished record of public service as a county board member, city council member, mayor and two term Governor of Nebraska. Senator Johanns also served for 3 years in the White House Cabinet as Secretary of Agriculture to President George W. Bush. While leading the Department of Agriculture, Senator Johanns helped U.S. agriculture producers find new markets overseas, promoted expanded use of renewable fuels, and encouraged conservation of agricultural lands. Having played a key role in developing the farm bill passed by Congress in 2008, then-Secretary Johanns decided to return to legislating full time and successfully ran to represent Nebraska in the Senate.
Senator Johanns' time in Congress is best characterized by his low- key approach to the most high-profile and consequential issues of the day. He was one of the bipartisan Gang of 8 Senators who tackled the challenge of crafting a comprehensive Federal deficit reduction plan in 2011, and in 2013 we worked together on a bipartisan deal to reopen the Federal Government and avoid a default on our national debt. I was also very proud to work with Senator Johanns on legislation to address the unacceptable trends in military sexual assault. Senator Johanns always brought the work ethic he developed growing up on a Nebraska farm to our business in the Senate, and for that and many other reasons I very much enjoyed working with him.
Senator Johanns has given many years to public service, earning him the right to seek a bit of a break from the spotlight, and I wish him all the best in his retirement.