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Michael E.
Republican WY

About Sen. Michael
  • Tributes to Departing Senators

    by Senator Michael B. Enzi

    Posted on 2014-12-12

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    ENZI. Madam President, at the close of each session of Congress it is our tradition to take a moment to express our appreciation and say goodbye to those of our colleagues who will be retiring at the session's close. It is always a bittersweet moment to reflect on the important contributions our friends have made as they worked so hard to represent their States and our Nation.



    Such an individual is Tom Coburn and that is just one of the reasons why we will miss him. Tom always has and always will be a strong voice for conservative values and principles. There are not many who can express their beliefs with the same kind of clarity and power he brings to the issues the Senate takes up for deliberations.

    I will always believe that Tom has been so successful in his career as a political leader and a doctor because he began his life with one of the greatest of all advantages--he was born in Wyoming, in Casper. That was not all. He graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in accounting. As an accountant myself I was not surprised by that. His love of accounting, his fondness for numbers and details, and his Wyoming birth all help to explain his power of persuasion.

    I am kidding about that but one thing that is true about his background is how his love of numbers and his understanding of budgets and accounting practices has helped him to understand the financial problems we currently face as a nation and the importance of taking action to address them before they get so far out of hand we will be jeopardizing the future of our children and our grandchildren.

    That would have never happened on Tom's watch. Grandfathers are like that. With one eye on the bottom line and the other on the future of our Nation, Tom has developed an amazing knack for finding ways to cut waste and save money, time and effort. For Tom it is clear, if it is not worth doing at all, it is not worth doing well.

    His insight and his immediate grasp of the essence of so many controversial and complicated issues has made him a great asset on the committees on which he has served. His willingness to get involved and lead on some pretty difficult issues has enabled him to make a difference that will be remembered around here for quite a while.

    In our deliberations one of Tom's great weapons has been his mastery and understanding of the facts surrounding his positions on the issues we have taken up in committee and on the floor. He is an excellent speaker and when he talks we are all very attentive. The reason why is simple. If you agree with him you want to know what his views are so you will be able to strengthen your own arguments on the bill with some of his reflections and recommendations. If you disagree with him you will still want to hear him speak so you will know what the toughest arguments are you will be faced with during our deliberations.

    No matter what side you are on, it is rare that anyone has ever questioned his facts. They may not like them--but you can not avoid acknowledging them.

    In addition, as a father, a grandfather and a physician, Tom has been an outspoken advocate on health and medical issues. During his career he has worked to increase the access of seniors to the health care services they need. He has also been active in efforts to try to control health care costs and protect the right to life of the unborn.

    He has such a strong kinship with the delegations of the West because Tom has a strong and heartfelt understanding of the challenges of our urban communities. I have often said one of our great battles here in Washington is to help our colleagues get a deeper understanding of the difference in life in the large eastern cities and the smaller rural communities of the West. It is a crucial difference that must be understood to get a better sense of what is needed to help both our rural and urban communities to grow and prosper.

    In the next session I know we will miss him, his understanding of our conservative values and principles and his commitment to this generation and the next--and beyond. Tom knows that if future generations are to have it as good as we have we will all have to learn to get along with a little less.

    Now Tom is closing that great chapter of his life that contains his service in the House and the Senate. It has not been easy. The House and Senate are very different places in which to work--and make progress but Tom has managed to do it--and he has the results to show for his efforts.

    Thank you, Tom, for all you have done to make our Nation a better place to live. We are grateful for your service, for your vision for America and most of all, your commitment to the future of Oklahoma and our Nation. Please keep in touch with us. I am going to keep your number on speed dial in my office so I'll have it when one of those days comes along when I need a thoughtful word or two for a debate or a committee session. As the saying goes facts are tough and powerful things and when it comes to those issues in which he truly believes so is Tom Coburn.

    TIM JOHNSON Madam President, it is a tradition here in the Senate to take a moment before the end of each session of Congress to express our appreciation for the service of those Members who will be retiring at the end of the year. It is always a difficult time to lose some of our best and brightest. One fellow Senator I know we will all miss is Tim Johnson.

    Tim has had quite a remarkable career and legacy of service to South Dakota of which he should be very proud. He came to the Senate to work for the people of his State and he did such a good job they kept sending him back. It is been a mutual admiration society--the people of South Dakota and Tim.

    Tim followed a proven path of success for his service in Congress by first serving in the South Dakota State Legislature. He had a knack for getting things done there that it preceded him to serve in the House as South Dakota's at-large Representative. He quickly developed a reputation in the House as someone who had an abundance of good ideas. As a freshman he had a list of bills he had dropped in that was longer than any other freshman in the House. It was clear to everyone that Tim was the kind of person who knew how to get results.

    Tim and I were part of the same freshman class of the Senate. Over the years I have enjoyed having a chance to come to know him. He has proved to be a good friend, a great ally and someone who was willing to work with members on all sides to get things done for South Dakota and our Nation.

    For me, it meant a great deal to have a Senator from a neighboring State who had an understanding of our agriculture industry. As I have often said, urban life is very different from rural life and it was good to have someone to work with whose background made those issues and the need for action clear to him.

    That is one of the reasons why Tim has such a strong understanding of one of the key issues of the West--water. For many of us water is something that we take for granted. It is easy. You turn on the tap and you can have as much as you want.

    Unfortunately, for our rural communities, it is not that easy. Water is a precious commodity--down to the last drop. In fact, just about everyone from the West has heard the old adage, ``Whiskey is for drinking, Water is for fighting!'' [[Page S6779]] It is a message that has stayed with Tim throughout his service in the House and the Senate. It has been a priority for him to ensure that good, clean water supplies are available to everyone in South Dakota and the West. That is why you will find his legislative record of accomplishments filled with his efforts to pass infrastructure projects to ensure our water supplies would be both reliable and available.

    I could go on about his other accomplishments and our work together on agriculture issues but I would be here for quite a long time and not begin to make a dent in what he has been able to achieve during his career. Let me just say that the work Tim began in the State Legislature and continued when he came to Congress has helped to make South Dakota what it is today. I think by any standard he has done a good job and made the people of his home State proud.

    Through the years, Tim has had some health problems, but he never let them stop him or slow him down in his work for South Dakota. Sometimes I think of him as a warrior--a quiet one--who is blessed with a spirit to work for the people of South Dakota that just can not be diminished.

    When I think of Tim I will always think of him as someone who leads the best way, by example. I have learned a lot from him over the years and I think we have made a difference together in our shared commitment to our Nation's agriculture industry. We have worked on a lot of bills together and by placing both our names on a bill we made it a bipartisan effort that I would like to think drew a lot of other Members to our side to work with us.

    Thank you, Tim, for your service, not only to South Dakota but to the West and to all our Nation. You have a lot to look back on with the satisfaction that comes from having done a job and done it well. Diana joins in sending our best wishes to you for your hard work and determined effort to address the problems and challenges of our Nation. Thanks, too, for your friendship. Good luck on the next chapter of the great adventure of your life.

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