tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 8, 2014 2:00pm-4:01pm EST
gavel in now and starting with general speeches ahead of confirmation votes at 5:30 for positions on the nuclear regulatory commission, the national labor relations board and the energy department. off the floor lawmakers working on legislation to fund the government past thursday. tem the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god the source of our being, on yesterday december 7, we remembered how you sustain us even through unexpected tragedies. we recall the deaths, injuries,
heroism, doubts, disbelief and patriotism on that date that will live in infamy. lord, continue to guide this land we love on its labyrinthine path to greatness. protect it from dangers seen and unseen as you unite for the common good. use our senators for your glory as our nation seeks to bring deliverance to captives and to let the oppressed go free. we pray in your great name. amen.
the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. mr. reid: mr. president? the president pro tempore: the majority leader. mr. reid: following my remarks and those of the republican leader the senate will be in a period of morning business until 5:30 this afternoon. at 5:30 the senate will proceed to three roll call votes on the confirmation of baran baran to be a member of the nuclear regulatory commission; lauren mcgarity mcferran to be a member of the national labor relations board and ellen dudley williams to be a member of the department of energy. i'm happy to be here today to talk about a couple of my friends, i should say the
senate's friends. i have received a lot of friends, gifts while i have been here. my colleagues over the years have given me things while i have been here in the senate, but one gift stands out really strongly in my mind. into my desk not far from -- in my desk not far from here, i have a big painting. it's a very famous from the national portrait gallery of mark twain. mark twain, i tell people, was born in nevada, which was true. samuel clemmens wasn't. he was choans -- chosen as secretary of nevada and he told his younger brother samuel --
sorry, mr. president. he told his younger brother, come west and i'll find you a job. he had been fighting, which he didn't like, in the civil war. so he came west with his brother. but his brother couldn't find him a job, so he bummed around for quite awhile. and without belaboring the story too long, the fact is, mr. president, that mark twain finally went up to virginia city, which was booming at the time, went to the territorial enterprise newspaper and got a job as a reporter. and that was his first writing that he had done. and that's where he started his fame. he would have stayed in nevada longer but someone challenged him to a dual for some of the things he wrote. being the smart man he was, he
didn't want the dual, so he left to town, went to california where he wrote two books, his experiences bumming around nevada until he found a job. these were bestsellers. these were great books. so, the point of the story, though, he went to virginia city as samuel clemmons and took the name mark twain. that's where the name came from. so this means a lot. it's a story that i tell many times. people come to my office. so carl levin, the wonderful, kind, thoughtful man that he is, said can i come and see you? i said sure. and he brought with me, i guess
it's the most -- one of the rare double signatures of samuel clemmons. there may be others, i never heard of one. this was at a club in hannibal, missouri. mark twain in 1902 knew how famous he was so he signed samuel clemmons, mark twain. he didn't want anybody else's name there. he wanted his. so that's the gift that he gave me. and that was so fitting. it fits my office perfectly and it means a lot to me. carl levin brought a handwritten note. i got this at an auction ten years ago not knowing why.
it just dawned on me. best new year, carl. that was so nice of him to do that. i just -- it's hard for me to explain my appreciation but i'm trying to do that by outlining here what a wonderful human being carl levin is. what he did for me is an example of who carl levin is, how he thinks of people. he remembered the story that i told him about mark twain, and he said, i'm sure to himself, i got this thing i got ten years ago. i'll just give it to the senator as a friend. so he gave me that plaque just because that's how he is. he's always been attentive to the interests of the people of michigan and our country. he's the longest-serving senator in the history of the state of
michigan. 36 years. his legislative accomplishments are significant. i would say they're unmatched by almost anyone he stood his glownd on controversial issues, and that is an understatement. he fought to give americans, average americans a fair shot at what's going on in the world. he's always spoken with a clear voice, speaking for justice, equality and fairness. mr. president, if you want something done that is foolproof, the presiding officer is a lawyer, i'm a lawyer, but i'm not sure i would be the best person if you gave me a document to look it over to make sure that there were -- in that document, in that was what you wanted in it, but carl levin, that's who you'd want. i call him my nit-picker. he is so good at making sure everything is right, every i is dotted, every t is crossed.
bring in carl levin if you have something that you really need someone to look at and think it through. he was a prominent lawyer as was his dad in michigan. his dad served as a member of the michigan corrections commission. after graduating from high school, his father worked in new york. carl levin knew how to work with his hands but followed in his father's footsteps. he attended college at swargt more, got a bachelor of arts degree there and attended harvard law school and received his juris doctorate at harvard. he practiced in the private sector for awhile. he began his public career as the first general counsel for
the michigan civil rights commission. he was elected in 1968, the detroit city council, and he served there until 1977. he was elected to the senate in 1978. he has functioned in this body as a level-headed mediator who's guided the protection of the people of michigan and our country. in the past 36 years carl has cast over 12,000 votes. some of those votes were hard and not always popular, but they were carl levin votes. he did what he thought was right. when general motors and chrysler in the last few years faced potential collapse, he recognized that their bankruptcies would devastate the people of michigan and have a detrimental effect -- and that is a gross understatement -- to this country. he pressed the incoming obama administration to support the companies with loans. the hew and cry of people that
opposed that, saying that is the wrong thing to do, levin is wrong, obama is wrong, but, mr. president, they were right. look what it has done to energize, revitalize the state of michigan. the whole detroit metropolitan area and our country. tens of thousands of new jobs as a result of his advocacy. as i said, it wasn't a popular position at the time, but carl knew what was good for michigan and good for our country, and he's been vindicated 100 times over. carl's been chairman of the senate permanent subcommittee on investigations for ten years. during that period of time, he's done some unusually important things for our country through this committee. corporate money laundering, 1999. he delved into that very deeply.
carl levin is not a headline hunter. carl levin is a substantive legislator. he could have held a lot more hearings but he held them about every six months because he wanted his hearings to be carl levin hearings whereas i repeat, every i was dotted, every t was crossed, they were very, very powerful hearings. gasoline price manipulation, enron scandal, he delved into that very deeply. misconduct in the united nations oil program, tax haven banks and offshore corporate tax evasion. he's talked about that and talked about that. notable legislation as a result of the work he's done: wall street reform, consumer protection act, credit card act, patriot act. carl levin is really a very fine legislator. he fought for wall street reform when others were afraid to do so and helped restore the broken
financial system and held powerful institutions accountable for their actions. carl's persistence earned him a slot in "time" magazine's best legislators, best united states senators. they called him the bird doger. mr. president, that's what he is. put him on an issue, and he will come back with the prey. he is very good. he never stops. he's a sharp overseer of the united states defense policy. he has spent his entire career promoting defense policy that protects america's interests home and abroad while safeguarding the men and women who serve. he's the chair of the senate defense committee, and during the nation's most trying diplomatic times, he has done a remarkable job to make sure that the military is protected. but even though he was chair of this big, powerful committee, defense committee, he felt so
strongly and he foresaw what aferlt us didn't see, mr. president -- what a lot of us didn't see, mr. president. he saw the disaster that would accompany an invasion in iraq. accordingly he talked about how bad it would be and voted against it. carl levin was right and a lot of us were wrong. i said before on this senate floor, of all the votes that i cast during the time that i've been in government, the worst was voting for that iraq war. but i did. carl levin didn't. for all of his accomplishments in congress, his greatest achievements reside in his home. carl and his wife of over 50 years, barbara, have three beautiful drawrts, -- daughters: kate, laura and erica. as carl retires from the senate, i know he's going to cherish the
time he's going to spend with his family. but also carl and i have had a long, long ongoing conversation. he and his brother sandy own about 100 acres. they have had it for a long, long time. carl levin is not a man of wealth but he and his brother bought this 100 acres. it has nothing on it but trees. he calls it his tree farm, and he's shown me pictures of this. i have had -- i haven't seen it lately, but i have had for 20 years -- 15, 20 years, a hat he gave me, green, baseball type cap that says tree farm on it. i used to tell him i still have that cap, and i have still got that cap, carl. he'll be missed here in washington. he'll be missed in the senate. by all of us, but he'll be missed more by his older brother sandy, who is a ranking member
on the ways and means committee in the house. they have served together in congress for 32 years. i've said this on the floor before, i'll say it again -- i remember carl levin for a lot of things. i was in the house. i came over to visit with him. i was thinking about running for the senate. i said carl, you know, i came to the house with your brother sandy. he looked up at me. he said sandy, you know, is not only my brother, he's my best friend. that speaks well of the person that carl levin is. it's really been a privilege and honor to serve with carl. i'll miss him so very, very much. i'll miss having somebody to take the difficult issues to him to get his view as to what we should do, how we should handle it. his voice will be missed here in the senate. i congratulate him on his comparable career in the senate
senate -- incomparable career in the senate. i wish him the very best. mr. president, i'd like to say a few other words here. i know there are others who want to speak, but i want to make sure that there is a separate place in the record for what i'm going to say now. i ask consent that be the case. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, it's said that you don't choose your family, and that's true. we are born into our family. we have no way to determine the family we are born into. yet, as a 27-year-old, jay rockefeller chose to make the people of west virginia his family. how did that happen? how did jay rockefeller, born in new york to one of the most famous american families, one of the great dynasties in the history of this country, end up in west virginia? he was a student at harvard,
undergraduate. and he decided that he didn't like some of the things harvard was doing, and so he left. he dropped out of school and went to japan. he spent three years in japan. he became an interpreter. he knows japanese -- the japanese language extremely well. he loves the japanese people today. he started out at harvard, came back, as i indicated. after his junior year, he left for japan. he was there three years. he came home, returned to harvard, finished his degree. jay rockefeller as a 27-year-old could have done anything, gone anyplace, gotten any education, started any business, or he could have sat around at a home on one of the beaches around the
world and just done nothing, but that is not jay rockefeller. he wanted to do something. he didn't know what he wanted to do. this rockefeller wanted to do something that was different. a friend of his published here for many years a magazine called "the washington monthly," a guy named pete peters. he was a man about town. everybody liked him very, very much. but he was very close to jay rockefeller. so jay talked to him one day, trying to find what he should do in life. here he was, one of the wealthiest men in america, a harvard degree. what should i do? and pete peters told him what you should do is go someplace and work with poor people. where should i go? why not west virginia? west virginia?
west virginia. so he joined americorps as a vista volunteer. he moved to a small mining community of emmons, west virginia. that was in 1964. this man of means, this man of stature, this man of notoriety went to this small little town in west virginia. it wasn't easy for jay rockefeller to suddenly find himself in a setting that he had never imagined. the first six months he was there, he could hardly get anyone to talk to him. he is kind of an intimidating man. his name is rockefeller, and he is 6'7". but eventually, his goodness came through. the people in emmons, west virginia, started talking to him, and they really liked the
man. but from 1964 when he moved there, he knew that he wanted to identify with poor people, and that's what he's done since 1964. in 1966, he was elected to the west virginia house of delegates assembly. in 1968, he was chosen to serve as secretary of state for the state of west virginia. he then became president of a university in west virginia, westland college. served there for three years. he then was twice elected governor of the state of west virginia. he served from 1976-1984. governor rockefeller became senator rockefeller in 1985. from the time he first stepped into -- onto the senate floor, he made it clear he was here for one reason -- to fight for the people of west virginia. senator rockefeller fought to provide his constituents with
health care. he was an architect of chip, child health program. it's an insurance program that is so important. children's health insurance program, one of the most important health initiatives in american history for kids. he fought for medicaid for half a million west virginians but millions and millions of americans. a senior member of the committee on finance and chairman of the commerce committee, chair of the intelligence committee. i mean, what a remarkable career he's had. he has fought very hard to protect the american people from president bush's efforts to privatize social security. he's protected retirement disability benefits by doing that for millions and millions of americans. his efforts to help west virginia haven't been confined to this building.
as the senior senator from west virginia, this big man of, i repeat, 6'7", with a very long reach, has used that reach to bring jobs to his home state, as governor and as senator. because of his recruiting, there are thousands and thousands of jobs in west virginia employed at the toyota factory, and the kureha plant in a town called bell. thousands and thousands of jobs. die monday electric, nipon thermostat, n.g.k. spark plugs, all companies senator rockefeller helped bring to west virginia. the people of west virginia have been blessed, mr. president, to have senator jay rockefeller as a family member for the last 50 years. they have been blessed to to haa person of his integrity and tenacity looking out for them in the senate.
my respect for jay rockefeller is unlimited. he has been my colleague for the entire time i have been in the congress, 32 years. now as his time in the senate comes to an end, he will be sorely missed. i'm sure jay's looking forward to spending more time with sharon, this wonderful, wonderful woman. by the way, whose father was a united states senator. his children, john, valerie, charles and justin. he has six grandchildren. i so admire this good man. i congratulate him on a very distinguished career, including five terms in the united states senate, two terms as a governor. i wish him the very best in life. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business for debate only until 5:30 p.m. with the time
equally divided in the usual form. mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, i have only heard two of the comments, one for the majority leader, one for the distinguished senator from michigan and the other for the distinguished senator from west virginia. now, i have to say that both of those senators deserve a lot of commendation for the service that they have given to the senate. they are both friends of mine. senator levin has been a terrific, solid performer for the democrats in the united states senate, and he's an honest, totally honest, decent, honorable man. senator rockefeller is on the finance committee with me. he is one of the senior people on that committee and certainly
one of the people i have enjoyed working with. we worked a number of years ago on the chip bill, the s-chip bill and he was of unestimable help there. i have to say he has been a wonderful member of the very important finance committee. so i will miss both of these brethren and wish them the very, very best in their lives as they go through -- through the remaining years of their -- of their lives and hopefully they and their families will have a wonderful, wonderful time together. i pray -- i ask unanimous consent those remarks be placed immediately following the distinguished majority leader. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: mr. president, as the appropriation committee's prepared to release the product of their negotiations on a spending bill this afternoon, i rise today to discuss the troubling development that has made their work all the more challenging. president obama's immigration executive order.
by -- by circumventing congress, the president has dispensed with the duly enacted law of the land in a unilateral attempt to alter the legal status of millions of immigrants. unfortunately, this issue of executive overreach is not a new one. over the past year, i have come to the senate floor repeatedly to lay out my objections to president obama's lawlessness from the release of guantanamo detainees to obamacare, from his purported recess appointments to benghazi. today i come to discuss this latest astonishing instance in the area of immigration. immigration is a complex and divisive issue, and americans hold a wide variety of views on the matter, but one thing that should not be controversial is the president's duty to place fidelity to the constitution over partisan politics. the constitution vests
law-making authority with congress, not the president, and the framers specifically sought to end centuries of abuses by the english monarchs who claim the power to dispense with the laws of the land by requiring the president to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. mr. president, the constitution does not suggest or invite the president to enforce the law. it obligates him to do so. the president and his executive branch, of course, exercise prosecutorial discretion. the discretion to choose not to prosecute certain cases, but that power stems from considerations of fairness and equity in particular cases. instead of requiring individualized dermingz in specific cases, the president's latest executive order claims the power to sweep up millions of people based on only a few broad, widely shared criteria. the president is also within his
rights not to prosecute when there are not sufficient resources to do so, but the obama administration has never explained how the executive order would save money. in fact, the administration's own policy advisors have acknowledged that a work-permitting program will be expensive and will take away resources from law enforcement. also, while no one disagrees that capturing and removing violent criminals should be our highest immigration policy or priority, president obama has gone much further and made current immigration law essentially a dead letter for millions of illegal immigrants. president obama cannot credibly claim that he is attempting to execute immigration law faithfully. when i.c.e. were forced to deport 68,000 potentially problems aliens alone.
when they took disciplinary action against i.c.e. officers for making arrests. and when the president of the i.c.e. council felt compelled to testify before congress that although -- quote -- most americans assume that i.c.e. agents and officers are empowered by the government to enforce the law, nothing could be further from the truth." unquote. moreover, despite the administration's claim to the contrary, president obama's action is not comparable to the executive actions taken by president reagan or even president george h.w. bush. even "the washington post" editorial board found that claim by the white house to be -- quote -- indefensible, unquote. presidents reagan and bush simply implemented the enforcement priorities established in law by congress in laws that were actually passed. before he acda. by contrast, president obama has sought to change the law before
congress has acted so he cannot rely on congress' authority to enforce the policy he prefers. here president obama has acted directly in the face of congressional opposition, and we should call his executive order what it is, an attempt to bypass the constitutionally order aind legislation -- ordained legislative process and rewrite the law unilaterally. mr. president, we are all sometimes disappointed, even angry, about the outcomes of the legislative process. i have certainly felt that way many times over the course of my 38 years here, but the right response is to redouble our efforts to get it right, not to try to subvert our constitutional system. the president should heed his own wisdom from as recently as last fall when he said that by broadening negligence enforcement carveouts, then -- quote -- essentially i would be ignoring the law in a way that i
think would be very difficult to defend legally, so that's not an option. what i have said is there is a path to get this done, and that's through congress." unquote. #u now, even beyond the legal and constitutional problems with the executive order, the president's approach is bad policy. his executive order greatly undercuts the chances for lasting immigration reform because it undermines our confidence that the president will live with any compromises we agree to forge through the legislative process. the executive order is even bad for those who are currently here illegally, those who are supposed to benefit from it, instead of temporary half measures, they need the certainty that only legislation can provide. last month, in an election in which president obama insisted that all of his policies were on the ballot, the american people delivered the president a decisive rebuke. many of us in congress took the right message from the election,
that it is time for us to come together to find areas of agreement and to govern like adults. apparently, president obama missed that message. to announce this executive order after his defeat at the polls displays shocking arrogance, and given how the white house and its allies in the media keep raising the specter of a shutdown or impeachment, it is clear that the president is attempting to or trying to goad congress into a fight rather than work with us in the difficult job of actually legislating. unlike president obama, i'm committed to making real progress toward implementing lasting immigration reform. i supported the senate's comprehensive immigration bill last year. even though the bill is far from perfect, i voted for it because i believe in working together to get something done on this vitally important issue. as i have long argued, the way to get real immigration reform back on track is not for the
president to assist on his my way or the highway approach, either by trying to enact his preferred policy unilaterally or even for him to demand an all-or-nothing comprehensive bill. instead, we should consider individual immigration reform measures that can win broad support and help rebuild trust in our country. only by doing so will we clear a path forward for other more far-reaching reforms. take the area of high-skilled immigration. we face a high-skilled worker shortage that has become a national crisis. in april, for the second year in a row, the federal government reached its current h-1b visa quote for stem type workers, just five days after accepting applications. employers submitted 172,500 petitions for just 85,000
available visas. so american companies were unable to hire nearly 90,000 high-skilled workers, essential to help grow their domestic businesses, develop innovative technologies at home rather than abroad and compete internationally, and keep in mind most of these affirmative action we have educated in our colleges and universities. they could be of great help to us. i have been trying to get h-1b expansion through here for a number of months. i think we will get it through ultimately. in response to this crisis, i worked with my friends, senators klobuchar, rubio and coons, to introduce a bipartisan immigration, innovation or i i-squared act. our bill provides a thoughtful, lasting legislative framework that would increase the number of h-1b visas based on annual market demand to attract the highly skilled workers and
innovators that our economy so desperately needs. mr. president, unilateralism is not the way forward on immigration. if the president is serious about enacting meaningful negligence reform, he can choose to take the first essential step. even in the current partisan climate, there is a widespread consensus and real opportunity for bipartisan, bicameral reform for the outdated visa system for economically essential high-skilled immigrants. the concrete legislative victory where there is already considerable consensus would help build trust and goodwill among those who disagree sharply over other areas of immigration policy. and would mark a critical first step along the path to broader reform. mr. president, for the life of me, i can't understand why the
president doesn't accept this hand that we're extending to him, knowing that we educate these people, we get them their college degrees, their master's degrees, their doctoral degrees, their ph.d.'s, and then we push them out of the country when they want to stay here and help us. in a continually evolving and impressive high-tech world. it's mind-boggling to me that we do this. canada even advertises in california in the states south of the canadian border, come to canada, you're welcome here. i commend canada for having the brains and the guts and the ability -- and the political instincts to attract these very highly educated -- educated in the united states people to help them in their high-tech world. in their engineering world. in their mathematical world.
in their science world. and, of course, you can name a whole raft of other areas where they're now helping canadians when they were educated here, wanted to stay here, wanted to be part of america, and we could have provided a means whereby these people could help us. and at the same time an intelligent means that people in our society could accept. that's not the only thing we should do. naturally, we should work together as depends 20 -- democrats and republicans to do real immigration reform, we've got 11 million people or more who aren't going back to their countries, many have never been in their countries like the children who were born here. and the young children who were brought here and never remember anything about their parents' former country. we -- we've got to solve these
problems and we don't do it by unilateral actions by a president who basically doesn't seem to give a darn. except for his own unilateral approach to things. that's not what the presidency should be. there are three branches of government. they're co-equal. the the president should encourse laws that are enacted only by congress. the supreme court should interpret laws that are enacted by congress. if there are reasons for doing so. but in this case we have a president who basically is ignoring the law, just acting on his own as though congress doesn't mean a thing, even though it means everything in these areas. i counsel the president to change these ways and work with us. i think there will be more
people willing to work with him some should he do so and we can solve these problems. we can solve them not in some stupid unilateral way that's going to create more problems than it solves but in a way that the american people will -- will accept. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. hatch mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: in the waning days of the 113th congress it's a bittersweet moment as many of us are saying goodbye, although not on a permanent basis but at least in terms of our official relationships here working together as united states senators with so many of our good friends and valued colleagues. but every other december we find ourselves bidding farewell to some of the most admired and respected members of this chamber, and today i just want to say a few few words about free of -- three of them starting with my good friend, the senior senator from georgia. saxby chambliss arrived in the
united states senate at the same time after the 2002 elections. at the time the war on terrorism, as you know, and as we all know, was barely a year old, and it was by far and away the biggest issue on the minds of americans across the country and in the halls of congress. senator chambliss immediately established himself as one of the senate's most important leaders on national security issues. which came as no surprise to anyone who had watched his career in the house of representatives. indeed, his capacity as chairman of the house intelligence subcommittee on terrorism and homeland security, he oversaw the first official investigation of the 9/11 attacks. it's hard to believe it's now been more than 13 years since that fateful day, but senator chambliss has never lost sight of the continuing threat posed by radical islamic terror groups and he's never stopped working
to uphold bipartisan support for strong national security policies. he's been a consistent leader on important pieces of legislation like the patriot act and on the detention facilities at guantanamo bay. he's also been a leader on the armed services committee on the annual defense authorization bill which we'll be taking up later this week. and on controversial but important topics like the foreign intelligence surveillance act. most recently, on the campaign to destroy the islamic state in iraq and syria, senator chambliss again has been another one of the leading voices helping us find our way to the right strategy and the right policy. in short, name any high-profile national security issue and there's a good chance that saxby chambliss has been driving the debate and working to move the u.s. in the right direction.
i know he's also especially proud of his efforts to improve current retirement policies for members of the national guard and military reserves. saxby comes from a state where agriculture is the single largest industry and he spent six years as either chairman or ranking member of the senate agriculture committee. as a footnote, he was actually i believe the first member of our class who came in 2002 to be -- to serve as a chairman of any standing committee, something that we were all a little bit envious of early on in his first term of office. but he's worked on several farm bills during the time he's been in congress and he's been our co-to -- go-to member on related issues. in fact, he understands these issues already almost anyone on both sides of the aisle which is another way of saying he understands the challenges facing american farmers better than almost anyone here.
that understanding allowed him to play a key role in reforming federal crop insurance. folks in georgia have been justly appreciative of senator chambliss' work on agriculture policy, and they also appreciate his efforts to accelerate the savannah harbor expansion project through a federal-state partnership which was officially signed back in march -- excuse me, in october. it is an impressive list of accomplishments, mr. president. i know i speak for all of our members on both sides of the aisle and such staffers alike when i say saxby chambliss will be missed as much for his warmth and friendship as his policy work. a diehard atlanta braves and georgia bulldogs fans, he's equally at ease discussing baseball, football, quail hunting, or national security. and in every conversation he is
unfailingly kind and thoughtful and considerate to everyone that he works with in this chamber, whether senator or staffer or just casual visitor. saxby is now preparing for life's next great chapter, which he'll spend with julianne, his wife of half a century and their grandchildren which bring them a lot of joy. i'd like to wish my good friend all the best in his retirement and the chambliss family a never-ending supply of health and happiness. mr. president, i'd like to turn to my colleague, our colleague from nebraska, the senior senator from, mike johanns. even if mike johanns had never been a u.s. senator, he would have compiled an extraordinary career of public service. it started with a stint on the lancaster county board and continued with two years on the
lincoln city council followed by eight years as mayor of lincoln, nebraska. in 1999, mike left the mayor's office and moved over to the nebraska state capital where he served six years as governor. he said one of his proudest gubernatorial achievements was enacting a mental health law that improved the least of nebraska's neediest and most vulnerable residents. that to me tells you about his character and sense of compassion. born and raised as a farm boy, mike was named america's 28th secretary of agriculture in 2005. over the next three years, he held more than 50 separate forums on the farm bill, more than 50. not surprisingly, he continued working on agriculture-related issues when he joint the united states senate. indeed, he's been a true leader, fighting passionately to defend the rights and
livelihoods of farmers and ranchers everywhere, especially nebraska. these are issues that are vitally important to millions and millions of americans, including mike's constituents. but they're not the kinds of issues that help land you prime time appearances on cable news. luckily for us, mike doesn't care about media attention, but he does care about is doing the right thing for his state and for our country. he understands something that many of us too quickly forget, that taxes and regulations should be forced to pass a simple cost benefit test. that's why mike worked so hard to block the national energy tax known as cap-and-trade. while he's consistently demanded that the environmental protection agency and other federal agencies demonstrate how their proposed rules would affect american jobs and american workers, it's also why
he so aggressively pushed to apolish the i.r.s.'s 1099 reporting in obamacare which would have placed a costly burden on small business owners and indirectly on the jobs that they create. mike did more than anyone else to help highlight the problems with this requirement and to demand its repeal, and thanks in large part to his efforts, 81 members of this chamber voted to abolish it back in 2011. you know, there's an old cliche in politics there's two types of politicians, the show horses and the workhorses. and mike has never sought the limelighted and he's certainly done more than his fair share of the work but he's done so in a very quiet and thoughtful manner. someone who keeps a low profile and operates behind the scenes, building bipartisan consensus and being infallibly polite and
gentlemanly in the process. he's the type of senator who is universally admired and respected by all our colleagues. his accomplishments here in the senate as i've just mentioned a few, have been manifold, yet i'm quite certain his proudest accomplishments are his family, his wife stephanie, their two children and their five grandchildren. they've been generous enough to share mike with us these past six years and now it's time for mike to be with the people he cares about the most. we'll miss him a whole lot, but we know he's moving on to perhaps the most rewarding chapter of his life. so mike, thanks for all you've done, thanks for your service, your guidance, and most of all, for your friendship. mr. president, i'd like to close my remarks today on our retiring colleagues by paying tribute to dr. tom coburn, someone who for the last 20 years we've all come to know and
admire as a relentless fighter for limited government and conservative values here in the united states congress. now, tom can be a very charming guy but i know he can be a pain in -- a pain in our side, too, when he is determined to make sure that he gets a chance to get a vote on an important matter here in the united states senate. and i think he's comfortable in both of those roles. i know he is. tom coburn is a man of strong principle, a man of great integrity, and perhaps just as importantly, a man of remarkable humility. our country has benefited greatly from the wisdom and leadership that tom has provided during his service in congress. first in the house and then in the senate. i've been in the senate now for a little more than a decade, and during that time our colleague from oklahoma has done more than anyone else in this
chamber to eliminate wasteful spending, expose fraud and abuse in the federal budget and get our entitlement programs on a sustainable path. now, tom would be the first one to say that job has just begun, but he's certainly given it everything he has. he's educated our nation on the fiscal threat we live under and what it means for our children and our grandchildren, and he's worked tirelessly to correct it. he's done a remarkable job as the ranking member of the homeland security and governmental affairs committee, as well as his service on the intelligence and banking committees. furthermore, tom has been an unyielding force at protecting liberty and improving access to affordable health care by proposing positive, patient-oriented alternatives and for these reasons and many more, i am grateful for his service. but perhaps the thing he does not want to be remembered for that has made such a profound impresentation presentation on
many of us is his courage and and his ability to deal with the fact that he's a three-time cancer survivor and even last week i know he was receiving treatment for this most recent flareup, but he'll be back here today, he'll be doing what he does best, and that sit -- that is fighting for his principles and causing more than a little bit of turbulence in the process in this otherwise staid chamber. but i know i speak for the entire chamber when i say it's an honor to serve with a man like tom coburn. i know this to be true because tom is well respected on both sides of the aisle. in fact, when time magazines named tom one of the 100 most influential people in the world, in 2013, a friend of tom's and former democratic senator wrote "the people of oklahoma are lucky to have someone like tom representing them in washington."
tom is one who speaks his mind, sticks to his principles and is committed to the people he was elected to serve. the friend i'm referring to who made those remarks is none other than our president, barack obama, when he served with tom in the united states senate. now, when the president said that, he found out that tom received a number of angry letters from constituents saying that he and president obama looked a little too chummy together, to which tom replied -- and this is a classic tom coburn. he said, "what better way to influence someone than to love them?" this serves i think as testament to his character. you see, tom has an extraordinary ability not just to win the respect of those who agree with him but the admiration and respect of those who disagree with him as well. that's a rare thing in politics and especially in today's society. nevertheless, tom has spent his career promoting what's good for
the country while never wavering from his personal convictions. along the way, he's racked up a lengthy list of accomplishments that protect taxpayers and increase transparency in government. tom's resume proves he's been a leader in congress but in every aspect of his life. for example, i think many of our colleagues don't realize that he had a distinguished career in business and medicine before he got here. tom served as president of the college of business student council while getting his accounting degree at oklahoma state university and later he went back to law school -- excuse me, medical school -- that's a fraudian slip he wouldn't be happy with -- went back to medical school where he trained to become a physician and served as president of his class at the university of oklahoma medical school. tom's got a lot to be proud of about his service in the house and in the senate but he's, again, like all of us, perhaps most proud of his family. he's been married to the former
miss oklahoma for nearly 50 years and he and carolyn have three daughters and seven grandchildren. meanwhile in his career as a physician, he's delivered more than 4,000 babies, which perhaps explains the vote totals in some of his elections, because i'm sure many of them have grown up to vote for him. one of the things i mentioned are the -- the things i mention are only just a few of tom coburn's long list of notable achievements. knowing tom and his work ethic, i have no doubt he'll be giving 110% right up until the last minute he serves in the 113th congress on january the 3rd, 2015. i wish tom and his family the very best as they enter the next season of life. mr. president, i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i ask consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, in just a few moments one of my best friends in the senate is going to give his farewell address. senator mark pryor of arkansas, a former state legislator, a former attorney general, two-term senator, was caught in this tidal wave in this last election that caused those of us in the democratic party in the
former old confederacy, now known as the south, and of course parts of the south these days don't look anything like the old confederacy. as a matter of fact, my state of florida is a good example. it is a compendium of people from all over the united states because folks from the country have moved to florida. and, thus, it is a microcosm of the country. arkansas, a state where the pryor family has served with great distinction and enormous public service for decades, and although it temporarily comes to an end with senator pryor
leaving the congress in january, that's not the end of his public service, because from his mom and dad who served so ably for years and years in the governor's mansion as well as the u.s. senate, serving the people of this country and arkansas to mark, their son, his family serving so ably over the years. that public service will continue. i reflect back just a few days ago when we had the farewell speech of senator rockefeller, another extraordinary public servant, selfless public
service, a senator who because of his family heritage, he could have done anything he wanted, but he chose to go to one after a life of privilege growing up as a young man, after spending time abroad, he chose to go to one of the poorest states in the union first as a volunteer to the poor, later as a distinguished record of public service that included secretary of state, governor, and now a five-term senator. this is just two examples. and i will speak later about other colleagues that are
leaving. two examples: senator rockefeller and my seat mate, senator pryor, extraordinary public servants who when you talked to them and when you looked in their eye and if they gave you their word, that's it. you didn't have to worry about it. some say it's a throwback to the old days. well, the old days, that's a throwback that we ought to go to when if a senator gave you his or her word, that's it. when there was civility among senators, when there was not an avalanche of outside money that came in to try to define you
with statements that were not true -- and we see what has happened to our politics in america today with exceptional millions of dollars coming in to a state buying up television to create a statement in 27 seconds often that is not true. that the fact checkers say is not true. factcheck.org, politifact. and yet, when you talk to the tv stations, the broadcast stations and you show them the fact checkers, they'll still run the tv ads. but rather than talk about the mistakes that were made here
with the citizens united supreme court case and missing by one vote in this chamber several years ago, one vote, we had 59 votes, we needed 60 to cut off debate so that we could get to the disclose act, a disclose act that did not counter the supreme court decision, just said if you're going to spend all this money, you're going to have to say who it is that is doing the contribution. and of course if we had been able to pass that, then all of this money would not be flowing. because it's hiding behind this masquerade of the committee for good government or the a.b.c. committee for whatever. so they masquerade behind that
veil to spend all of that money in order for their ultimate purposes. and it caught a number of our people. just look at what happened in the runoff election this last saturday. look at the imbalance of the spending on tv that occurred since the general election and the runoff in the state of louisiana. and i'll speak about senator landrieu, senator udall, senator begich and senator kay hagan, i'll be speaking about them later. i wanted particularly to talk about senator rockefeller, our chairman of the commerce committee, and senator pryor, one of the finest public
servants that i have ever had a chance to serve with. now, mr. president, i want to speak about a very uplifting topic in more ways than one. for friday morning i was at the cape. we call it the cape. it's technically known as the kennedy space center. america is going to mars, and the first test flight, the spacecraft, orion, put upon another rocket, in this case a heavy-lift rocket called the delta 4, twice orbit around the
earth and on that second orbit boosted up way beyond low earth orbit to 3,600 miles. then with a ballistic reentry simulating 80% of the forces, the stresses on the spacecraft, the g's as well as the heat shield heating up to 4,000 degrees farenheit, in a spacecraft totally instrumented to check out the integrity of the spacecraft and the effectiveness of the heat shield as part of it, a heat shield that burns off upon reentry.
and it was a fantastic success. now i talked about this last week ahead of time just to give folks an idea of how large this is, the apollo spacecraft was 12 feet in diameter. it looked a similar kind of shape, a capsule. that was over four decades ago. 12 feet. orion is 16 1/2 feet and totally new technology, a new heat shield. and up to date instrumentation that will carry four astronauts on our goal of our journey to the planet mars in the decade of the 2030's. this is what i wanted to share.
friday night after the launch, with the extensive coverage that the news media gave, i was at a totally unrelated charity event for a children's hospital, and i had people coming up to me and saying we didn't know that we had a space program. and it's simply because they associated the shutdown of the space shuttle with the last flight of 135 flights, they associated that with the shutdown of the space program in the last flight of 2011 of the space shuttle. but, indeed, they now see what has been happening behind the scenes all along, where indeed
we are in a dual track in america's manned space program. the one track going to mars way beyond low earth orbit where we have been for the last 40-some years. low-earth orbit that services the international space station where six humans are right now about 250 miles positive -- above the earth, doing research, and the program of going out and exploring the heavens. the second track of the dual track is, in fact, building american rockets which are being done in a commercially viable way to go to and from the space station as they are right now with cargo but making those
spacecraft safe with the escape systems for humans. that's the dual track, and therefore as a result we end up with nasa exploring the heavens again and we are back in the human space business. mr. president, the great senator from the state of arkansas is here. he does not know that i have just spoken about him, and it is going to be my privilege to listen to his remarks. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senior senator from arkansas. mr. pryor: mr. president, thank you. i have to begin today by saying one thing, and that is to god be the glory, and i will finish
with that, too. first let me offer a few words. since election night, i have had many, many arkansans come up to me and thank me for my service. i appreciate that, but i need to thank them for allowing me to do this for the last 12 years. it sounds like a cliche, but it isn't. serving in the united states senate has been the greatest honor of my life. it truly has been. i have loved it and i have always done it with a cheerful heart. i go back to my beloved arkansas and i have to thank the people of arkansas for allowing me to work for you, but i must confess i'll miss waking up every morning and thinking how can i make a difference for arkansas and for america today? those years are -- were momentous in so many ways, for our country and for our world. i had a front-row seat to making history and i hope i made a little bit of it myself. on a personal level, those years were filled with family and friends, a remarkable staff, my senate colleagues and a whole
series of rich, once in a lifetime experiences. the lord has given me two wonderful children who are now in college. i know many of you all saw them for the first time when they were in elementary school. i'm very proud and their mother is very proud of adams and porter pryor. i am very excited about their future. god has also brought an old sweetheart back into my life, joy, and whom -- she and i attended the sixth and seventh grades together. when i say god has brought joy into my life, i mean it literally. many of you know my parents. of course, i would be nothing without them. david and barbara pryor have touched so many lives, and they continue to do so. for the last eight years, i have lived with my brother, david, and judith and hampton pryor when i am here in washington,
and i will always be grateful for their love and hospitality. scott and diane and devin pryor in new york, they have been a great inspiration to me as well. my staff is simply awesome. i love them all, and they are all part of my family, too. there are too many to mention, but words like talent, commitment, public service, effectiveness all come to mind whenever their names come up, and i have said this many times about my staff, and they keep telling me not to say it, but i'm going to say it one last time. they do 99% of the work and i get 99% of the credit. so i want to acknowledge them for a job well done. they should all hold their heads high for the difference they have made. and, mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that a list of their names be submitted to appear in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. pryor: and my colleagues, what can i say about my colleagues that hasn't been said before? or maybe i should say what can i say about my colleagues that
they haven't said about themselves before? but, you know, politics is about people. not just the people out there but the people in here, the people the people elect. i have served with some greats and some giants. robert c. byrd, ted kennedy, daniel inouye, ted stevens are at the top of the list, but the truth is that every single senator i have served with is a giant. i have served with about 175 other senators so there are too many to single out, but i have made lifelong friendships here and i have done a lot -- and we have done a lot of good things together. this is what i will remember. all the permits, all the times when we came together to do the right thing and all the successes that we had together. while in the senate, i have more than 70 initiatives signed into law, and almost all of those have been bipartisan. mr. president, i would ask if there is no objection, i'd like
to submit that list for the record as well. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. pryor: i don't do very many press conferences, as you all know, and i have always been first in line to work with any and all of my colleagues to try to get things done. the senate is a special place. on a personal level, we talk about the senate family, and it is a family. when people mention the senate to me, i think of other senators, of course, and i think of legislation, but usually the first thing that comes to mind are the people who work here, the parliamentarians, the clerks, the doormen, the capitol police. i'm appreciative to the other senators' staffs and the committee staff, and even to my house colleagues -- most of them, anyway. no, even to my house colleagues. but i have always been mindful of the people who really make this place run -- the janitorial staff, the folks in the restaurants, the maintenance guys, the painters, the carpenters, the tech people, and
the list goes on and on. all of them contribute to making the senate what it is. we work here together. we go through life and budget cuts and changing political winds together. there is a bond that we all feel because we all have been in the senate together. please give me just a few moments of your time to make this next point. as great an institution as the senate is, the senate is broken, and the american people know it. in fact, this is an area where the american people are way ahead of washington. people around our nation look at washington and they shake their heads. we sometimes cannot see the forest for the trees because we get bogged down in permits or perceived wrongs or whatever the case may be. you know, this isn't a barack obama problem. this isn't a george bush problem. in fact, all recent presidents have gone through periods of deep unpopularity. this is an all of us problem. the political environment today
grinds the trust and confidence out of our system. and let me tell you, that's not good for anybody. the republicans have a great opportunity in 2015 and 2016. they convinced the voters that they are the party that can govern. now it's time for them to turn off the rhetoric and turn on the governing. in the united states senate, if the new republican majority will run the senate the way they have said that it should be run, then this is a very good start. if we can replay the tape of the last two years, we will hear republican senators time and again clamor for an open amendment process and for regular order. the democratic majority changed the rules, which i did not support, so let's change the rules back to the way they were. let us govern in the way we know we ought to. and democrats -- this is an important message -- democrats should help them, democrats
should help republicans govern. but the rules aren't the problem around here. we're the problem. all 100 of us. hyperpartisanship has gotten the best of us. when things get too partisan, good judgment and common sense go out the window. the biggest and most serious problem facing our nation today is the dysfunction in our political system in washington. america has incredible potential, but we cannot reach it unless washington starts to work again for all of us. if we're to continue to be the greatest nation on earth, we must work together. that is, after all, the american way. that's our history. this country was created. this country was forged. the great melting pot is just that, a melting pot. e pluribus unum actually means something. out of many, one. we have many differing viewpoints, many philosophies,
many priorities, so we have the pluribus part down pat. no, the challenge comes with the unum. from my perspective, i see the ultimate question as a question of loyalty. who are we loyal to? i just mentioned that we have many different viewpoints, philosophies and agendas, but if we have different loyalties, then we are a divided noition. that will only lead to bad things. when each of us take our oath of office, we swear allegiance to the constitution. not a party nor a president nor an interest group. we don't swear allegiance to those who lead our campaigns or a certain agenda. we need to hash our differences in the senate, in committee and on the floor and then hash them out with the house, but at the end of the day produce legislation. that is the essence of the legislative branch. we almost -- we also must exert our authority as article one,
the first branch of government. we have checks and balances, and we cannot provide the check or the balance if we're not functioning. making this place function is part of our oath of office. one thing we should all remember, the senate is bigger than us. we don't have to look further than our own desk to see that. look inside your desk, and you see the names written in the drawer. in my desk, i see senator branna elected in 1911 from north dakota. names like everett dirksen and george mitchell, david pryor, joe lieberman and carl levin. these men molded history. these are senators who shaped world events. these senators were good stewards of what our founding fathers created for us. we should be, too, each and every one of us. the father of our country had a lot to say about partisanship. in his farewell address, he
warns us of the continual miss chiefs in the ill-founded jealousies caused by parties. we should take hee. it is the greatest mistake of our time to allow these prophesied mischiefs and jealousies to divide us and damage the american political character. abraham lincoln once famously said a house divided against itself cannot stand. that is so true, and his voice is echoing down through the halls of history to us. if we are divided, we cannot stand, and we won't stand a chance in the future. let lincoln's words be a clarion call to all members of the congress, and that includes all senators. look at what is happening to us. the congress is getting more liberal and more conservative. look at the wild swings in regulations that have occurred from president clinton to president bush to president obama.
no wonder we're seeing a sluggish economic recovery. washington is creating uncertainty and instability, and the private sector cannot make investments or take risks with confidence. it should be the opposite. the federal government should be fostering economic growth. this country needs washington to function, and that starts in this chamber. one thing i like to say in meetings is this -- don't just bring me the problem. bring me the solution. so i have identified a big problem here this afternoon, and it's fair for you to ask about the solution. regardless of your political philosophy, bipartisanship is the answer. let's take off the red jersey and take off the blue jersey, and let us all put on the red, white, and blue jersey. our nation's challenges, large and small, require us to get on the same team. that's team u.s.a. remember i mentioned abraham lincoln saying that a house divided against itself cannot stand. well, he was actually quoting an
itinerant jewish rabbi who said that about 2,000 years ago. jesus was right then and he's right now. a house divided against itself cannot stand. good government is good politics, and although there are short-term gains to be had by political division, the long-term consequences are bad for the country. it is time for the giants of the senate to emerge. jesus has offered us some advice. probably the best practical advice of wisdom he left us here in the congress is called the golden rule. do unto others as you would have them do unto you. if we applied that around here, about 3/4 of our problems would vanish, oppose. is that impossible? not at all. most of us claim to have a judeo christian faith, so why not apply what we know to be true? the first step in this process
is another one of jesus' admonitions -- forgive one another. i know each senator from time to time feels betrayed or let down or slighted or somehow wronged. we need to forgive one another and let the healing begin. i'm not trying to combine religion with politics, but i think most everyone in the world agrees that jesus is one of the greatest moral teachers of all time. he has a lot to say about how we should treat one another. there are and there will be 100 senators. healing the senate and getting it to function as it did for two centuries is up to each individual senator. that means doing the right thing, but also persuading others to do the right thing. it's not about us, it's about our country and our children and grandchildren. it's about being good stewards. in closing, let me say, i love my time with you. i will always remember you with
a senator: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: mr. president, i ask that the proceedings under the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: mr. president, are we in morning business? the presiding officer: we are. ms. collins: mr. president, i ask that i be permitted to proceed for not longer than five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i'm pleased to rise to give a tribute to
senator pryor, whose remarks we have just heard. through nearly a quarter of a century of dedicated public service, senator mark pryor has established a strong reputation as a voice of reason. from an arkansas legislator and attorney general to a united states senator, senator pryor has always put the people first. to me, he has been an admired colleague, a great clb rarit --t collaborator and a treasured friend. working with senator pryor during his service in the senate, i know that he acquired his voice of reason the old-fashioned way -- he is such a good listener.
you know, all of us are pretty good talkers or we wouldn't be here, but senator pryor has the distinction of being a good listener. whether debating colleagues on the senate floor or interacting with his guests on his "pryor side chats" back home, he has consistently demonstrated that he is one of those special individuals who can disagree without ever being disagreeable. he always sticks to his principles yet he respects the principles of those with whom he disagrees. he is well-informed but always open to new information. it has been a particular pleasure to work with senator pryor on the homeland security committee for many, many years
and on the committee on appropriations. his work ethic, his attention to detail, his willing once again to listen to alternative views, have been great assets in addressing the challenges that we face in our country. he has been a diligent fiscal watchdog for the nation's taxpayers. to me, senator pryor's approach to public service is best defined by the crucial role he has played in ending the government shutdown in the fall of 2013 and as a member of the gang of 14 back in 2005. in each case, he worked closely with me and with other members to end a crisis and to achieve a
responsible commonsense solution. in each case, he listened and he led. as a charter member of our commonsense coalition last year, senator pryor stepped forward to restore both government operations and helped to restore some modicum of citizen confidence in our senate, in our government. these certainly were not the only times that senator pryor's bipartisan approach and concern for the well-being of americans have been evident. in 2007, after a large number of recalls and following injuries and deaths caused by -- caused parents throughout america to be concerned about the safety of their children's toys,
especially those manufactured overseas, he once again stepped forward to lead. after an extensive investigation in the homeland security and governmental affairs committee, senator pryor worked with those of us on the republican side on a bill to strengthen the consumer products safety commission so that we can now better detect and counter threats to our children's health before these threats even reach the store shelves and eventually homes, schools and day-care center. from restoring trust in government to protecting our children, senator pryor has proven over and over again that bipartisanship works. and i think it's so significant that his message to us today is that the dysfunction and
hyperpartisanship that has characterized the senate cannot stand. that is a wonderful parting message and it is typical of senator pryor that, rather than talking about all of his accomplishments, he instead is besieging the senate to work together in the interests of all americans, whether we're democrats, republicans, independents, greens or not affiliated with any party at all. the 2014 election did not produce the result that senator pryor had hoped for but it did reveal another aspect of his extraordinary character. his message to the people of arkansas and to the new senato
senator-elect on election night was genuine and it was gracious. to the people of arkansas, he simply expressed his sincere gratitude for the opportunity to the serve. but may these words spoken that evening to us here in the chamber, which he echoed today, be his legacy. he said that night, "the biggest and most serious problem we're facing in this nation today is the dysfunction of our political system in washington. we have incredible potential but we won't reach it unless washington starts to work again for all of us." mark pryor has been an extraordinary individual who
always did what he believed was right. he has contributed enormously to our country and served his state well. i commend him for his service and i thank him for his commitment, his integrity, and most of all for his friendship. thank you, mark. i yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, the great caesar chavez once said, "if you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with them. the people who give you their food, give you their heart." that's true. sometimes they give you more than that. sometimes they give you an adventure in eating that you'll never forget. that's what happened to me when in january i was invited by mark pryor to be his guest at a legendary arkansas political
event. i'm talking about the historic, well-known annual gillette, arkansas, coon supper. never heard of the gillette coon supper in arkansas? it is to arkansas what tom harkin's stake fry is to iowa, only it's nonpartisan. it draws about 1,200 people and unfortunately they don't serve stake. coon is raccoon served in large buckets. folks just reach inside and pull out a chunk of coon, as they say in gillette. well, i was there that night with mark pryor. wanted to make sure i had my best manners as a visiting guest. certainly appreciative of the invitation to a packed room with the governor and every walking politician in arkansas. bill clinton had been there over and over again in his terms as governor. you just never missed this supper and we weren't about to miss it that evening. and i watched as they put these
bowls of coon and other meats on the table and i noticed something interesting. all of the visitors, like myself, had bowls of coon put in front of them. all the folks who were from arkansas were eating out of the beef platter. and it struck me that perhaps this was a delicacy they were saving just for guests. we asked for advice from mark pryor about the proper selection of the cooked coon and he said, "get one with a big bone because they have the least amount of meat on them." so we followed his advice and nibbled at the corners and smiled and said what a great dinner it was and looked around and saw that only a handful of local people from arkansas were actually eating the delicacy of the evening, including one old fella whom i went up to afterwards to introduce myself who was wearing a real coonskin cap and he told me he shot the raccoon. and this cap had been in his
family for a long, long time and will be passed on to his daughter first, of course, and then to his grandson. mark twain, another "mark," as it turns out loved roasted raccoon as well. always -- but he always kept an open mind when it came to the issues of the day, including the issue of the afterlife. mark twain once said, "i don't like to commit myself between heaven and hell. you see, i have friends in both places," mark twain said. well, one reason mark pryor has been such a good senator is he has friends on both sides of the aisle. you just heard this warm tribute to mark pryor from my friend, susan collins of maine, and others i'm sure will join in the chorus on both sides. mark pryor is a man of deep faith who takes seriously the admonition of the prophet isaiah -- come now, let us reason together. like kay hagan and mark udall in our caucus, mark pryor has politics and public service in
his bloodstream. mark lundsford pryor is the fifth generation of pryors to serve in politics in his state. the first three generations served as sheriffs. mark pryor served four years in the arkansas house and four years as arkansas attorney general. two 02 electe2002 elected to th, the same seat his father david held in the senate for 18 years. mark pryor placed on his desk the same motto that his father placed on his. it read simply, "arkansas comes first." but he made his own decisions and he left a considerable mark in the senate. halfway through his freshman term, just a new member himself, mark pryor was called on to join forces with the lions of the senate -- john warner, robert c. byrd, danny inouye -- to forge a compromise over judicial nominations that averted a threat to a bigger confronteddation. that compromise, mark said, was the result of perspiration, not
inspiration. i disagree. it involved the inspiration of a young senator from arkansas who realized that public service often meant trying to work together and reason together and to try to break down in your own individual fashion the dysfunction of washington. i worked with mark on so many things over the years and as a whip i went to him many times and we talked about difficult votes. i always found him to be honest, straightforward, highly principled. we didn't always come to the same conclusion on the vote, but i respected him every time because i knew that he gave thoughtful consideration to both sides when it came to his vote. he was going to do what was right in his own heart and especially what was right for arkansas and i knew that would make the final decision when it came to the vote. i also want to put in a word of thanks to mark as the grandfather of two 3-year-olds who are anxiously waiting for