tv U.S. Senate Sen. Heidi Heitkamp Farewell Speech CSPAN December 11, 2018 11:20pm-11:56pm EST
george washington. that was for george washington's birthday. there was an active american fascist movement in the 20s and 30s earlier than people think that was associated with the phrase. >> university of london professor looks at the history of the terms america first and the american dream in her book behold america in her farewell speech north dakota senator heidi heitkamp discussed her time in the senate into some of the causes she's advocated. senator heitkamp lost her bid in november. this is half an hour in 2000 i was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer and after my treatment my oncologist told me you have had a chance of livine than ten years. think about that. so i knew right away i had a
chance to use the time god gave me for good and noble purposes to try to do the things i always thought needed to be done in this country and it's an important lesson for all of you. the greatest gift you have is not your bank account. the greatest gift you have is the amount of time you have left on this earth and what you do with it. and i chose to come to the senate. i think when we have a world of options and make this choice that is so important that we come here with purpose not just to be named a senator or for office but for purpose. so the truth is i'm not supposed to be here. i'm from north dakota it is a town of 90 people. when i was growing up my family was one tenth the population. [laughter] my dad was a world war ii veteran who left the education,
read the paper every day, believed in this country that was never given the chance to go to high school. my family struggled to get by and when you look at it, you think about this, a country where somebody from my background could actually become a united states senator. i'm from a very conservative state against all odds the prediction was that was only 8% i got elected to the senate and i got to serve in the senate for six years as an incredible american story. people always ask me at what point did w you think wow you ce to the senate and i said i was so busy after i got elected and people whor want to to see me during the campaign so they were busyo putting together the offie and i remembere remember the dao the chair and the pastor came and then i turned around to say the pledge of allegiance and i thought here i am.
north dakota, middle-aged democrat from north dakota and i'm standing in the senate where not even 2,000 people have come before. this is a great and good and noble country with good purpose and greatpo opportunity and i wt every child out there to understand it doesn't matter. we represent a cross section of this great country, but we also are not that special. sometimes i think the american public thinks if you took 100 random people and put them in, they could do better than we could do but the truth is you all came here with the same noble purpose. youhi came here to change ameri, to do the right thing and i don't care if you sit there or here telling you all came here for the right purpose and i got to serve in the senate as a part
of a great american story and that only happens in this country. don't ever forget that and if we lose that opportunity, we will want to be finished in who we are. h i want to offer a few comments and i hope they are not to preachy but i want everyone to understand especially my colleagues that this has been the opportunity of a lifetime. think about what we did to get here thete process we go through is brutal and quite honestly a feat. it's upsetting what we do to get here.vi having taken those steps and walked that campaign we have an gopportunity to not just achied the title but to do great and good things for the country. my job here the work i've done has always been to remember who
we are standing in this well for. the past six years i stood here for north dakota. for the incredible people i serve i've stood here for the families of disabled children who were terrified they would lose their health care. when i took the vote on the affordable care act, i thought in the vote they remembered their faces. i stood here fo for the men and women of the armed forces and our veterans in north dakota who believed they did a great thing and deserve to be treated respectfully, honorably and just get the benefits they've earned. a veteran shouldn't have to come to the office to get the benefits they've earned with too many have to. i stood here for the retirees whose pensions arere threatened od under that question if we can spend billions bailing out the failed wall street bankers,
can't we just pay attention to the working men and women struggling, who are in crisis and literally the heartbreak of their story is heard across the chamber o the reaction with the overwhelming. many of them are veterans and worked hard and now are broken and the work they've done. i've stood here for farmers and communities and i've stood here for native people and many times as you know have tried to do my best to educate you on the challenges of the first is. but mostly i hope i've stood here for the children of america because in spite of how we behaved they truly are our future. they are the people who make a difference for our future and if we do not start respecting that chime in that we have to create a better world with more
opportunity, we will not fix the promise of america long-term. these are the people who drive me every day. they are who we serve, not a party or ideology. i've spent my time standing and fighting for them and for me that work will never stop so with all that said i stand here proud of what we have accomplished. when you look at the time and opportunity to rise above partisanship and rancor, i found so much common ground with so many men as of this body, and i'm incredibly proud of what we've been able to accomplish. i've advocated for the communities and b playbill to stand up for native american children which i did from the very beginning the first bill i introduced and it was symbolic for me if i'm in partnership
with lisa on this and other issues but i know her heart and i know she cares for and when you find people whoti care you n do amazing things. my legislation we are on our way to passing to recognize for the first time the challenge and the tragedy of murdered and missing indigenous women. all of this so important. bipartisan legislation to crack down on humanwe trafficking online. swe shut down people who were n fact selling children for sex. think about that. that's a noble act we took and the challenge continues. congress passed the bill to get more resources to keep communities strong and safe and i led an effort with my colleague from alaska lisa murkowski to lift the ban that
we did with my other colleagues on this side of the aisle when we looked up enhancing renewable energy. a success on both sides we have millions of barrels of oil but we also are growing the renewable energy industry because of that effort. it might be small to this body that huge to those that served. i got funds for flood protection across africa and the projects need working with senator holdenrt and i passed the billo secure the northern border working with tellier offers no longer here but a great friend. legislation i helped write to provide relief to the community banks and senator donnelly, senator tester, senator warner
recognizing the challenges and how we need to tse address them. no one thought we could get that done but we did because we believed we could. i worked with republicans and democrats. probably the crowning achievement in terms of bipartisanship to deal with carbon capture. the firstaj major piece of legislation has been passed. it happened when senator barrasso and senator capito and senator sheldon whitehouse collaborated and said we can't agree on climate that we will agree on the climate technology that will change outcomes. it is essential to tackling the problems wit of carbon emissionn this country so don't say it can't be done if you can get sheldon whitehouse and mitch mcconnell on a bill that involves carbon that is a good
day. i've worked to help address the detrimental impact and this is an issue right with you will become better educated on and the fact that it has on so many of our children. i've worked with great colleagues who lets me take the ball and run with it for which i will always be grateful and worked with cory booker from nes jersey giving incredible things for children. it is pivotal if we are going to change outcomes for families. we have to think differently about these issues. i helped write f and negotiate farm bills. thank you for believing in bipartisanship and rural america. i've worked with incredible folks. john boozman from arkansas, a great story. little known fact ilittle knownm
bill we are going to pass is maybe the first piece of major legislation involving cuba. we lifted the ban on using the usda programs to enhance export opportunities. first time we've addressed them in any major piece of legislation if yes i don't know if senator carper is here but io take care of at the post office and you ought to. i need to get everybody else interested because i'm not good to be your partner anymore. but for those of you that care about politics, i want you to understand when i made a post to fix my mail thinking i would get 20d or 30, i got over 500 complaints about what was happening was the rural postal delivery. if we can't run thee, post offi, how can we run the country? ask yourself this question. also, i'mud incredibly proud of the stuff that i've done every
day for north dakota. in six years i fought over 3400 meetings both in washington and north dakota. my office has provided responses to over 204,000 who reached out to me on various issues and have over 18,000 with federal agencies getting their benefits, fixing issues with social security, helping resolve immigration and much more. people always ask me what is your greatest achievement in the senate and i could go all through the things that i like to talk about one thing. a native american from spirit lake nation and he i is a tidy baker which is apo ceremonial position within their culture. he's also a korean war veteran and one of the people on the peninsula was captured, injured and saved lives during what was
called the tiger death march. he ended up serving in the entire korean war and a korean prison camp. when he got out, no one knew who he was. there was no documentation of the fact that he was in the prison of war camp. there was no documentation that he had been injured. the senator was able to get him his battle. but guess what, he also didn't get his purple heart and that bothered andy because he observed and he'd done incredible things in that service. we found somebody who would sign an affidavit that said as he had been injured. when we presented a purple heart to the veteran at 86-years-old, he got out of his wheelchair, saluted the flag and hugged his
middle. you all have the power to do that. you all have the power to make just one little difference. do that. it's a great thing even though it's not great big legislation. so knowing that we are doing the work of the people and knowing that so many north dakota and toughness with me and told me that incredible challenges they have, incredible obstacles they face and that you can make a difference. you can help put food on their table. you can help remain a family, you can help them with big things but the little things matter also. the little things that affect each of their lives. this, despite the progress we've made during some difficult times, we are not done. every time i come to the floor fighting for rural america. there is a huge gap in productivity, a huge gap in
economic viability, there's a huge gap and as we see the retreat in rural america, we become less in this country. as we see more and more wealth u move into urban areas, we have to address this issue and there are big crowds o clouds on the n facing the country. our children and grandchildren will suffer the consequences, and this is an urgency that takes center stage for me. i've always said that the thingg i wake up every morning thinking what am i going to do about rural america today, i went to see people here. that's because i represent a state that is still very little even if you live in fargo, it's not a big city to some of you but it is to those of us in north dakota. but then you are just one generation from hillsborough or cooperstown. i also want to say that we cannot sustain record debt and
this is a bipartisan challenge. this is the challenge of historic proportions. we are the only generation in america and in our history who has inherited from the greatest generation, our parents, and we are borrowing from our kid. shame on us. shame on what we are doing right now. the congressional budget office says our debt is heading to the highest level since world war i or world war ii. including increasing the chances of the crisis which we can't ignore. i urge you to put facts before fantasy. facts before fantasy. open your eyes. see this challenge. several months ago when i voted against ta the tax bill that has greatly contributed i think to the record deficits we now face, i ran into an older man after he given a speech at the veterans day service, and he came up to
me it was before the vote he came up to me and said senator heitkamp, i want a tax break. i said i hear that a lot. he said not at the expense of my kids. he's stillha a patriot. he still knows what it means to sacrifice so they need to be responsible in how they spend their money and i'm grateful that my friend is here. we toiled away to try to make in spite of erotic logicalde differences and how we view our worldview we still believe this government needs to be efficient and effective and spend money the right way and we marveled at the one to care about it than to just show up for an occasional meeting. c i hope you find an equal and willing partner in your work
because i know that for you this is a moral imperative to spend every dollar that is sent here the right way and with a more efficient way and to do things right and when he can tell the american public thatcaic we are spending their dollars responsibly that we are making the right choices we will have many more options and we will grow the, reputation not only of the united states government as the united states senate. income disparity the top 1% of families in america make more than 25 times what families make in the bottom 99%. think about that. 25 times what families at the bottom 99% make. much of the recent economic prosperity we've seen in this country has been concentrated on the coast leaving much of rural america behind. the administrative trade war, not something i've been shy
talking about is causing an emergency in rural america but i think it is going to cascade a into a challenge and send a domino into an economic peril for this country. i'm not saying that we don't need to address disparities in equities and trade dui agreemen. i am saying you don't be a 17th century solution to deal withf, 21st century problems. think about the unilateral ability of theil white house to impose a tax on the american people, and then even more remarkably to create a system at the department of commerce to basically waive those texas. how many of you with what the president decides if it is income taxes and then who is going to win? none of you would. big responsibility. we need to take back responsibilities before it is too late.
these markets took years to develop for agriculture. they are not going to come back in the snap of a finger. when you look at the incumbent wilincome itwill be 13% lower ih no promise form an increase in the future. this will cascade through rural america. i also want to sound the alarm it goes to senator blunt who did a wonderful job. the life of a family physician who tells me he can only get his patients compliant with the single biggest factor in that leads to challenges and that leads to a record rate of suicide i don't know how many a story on suicide throughout the world and only one is increasing and that is the united states of america in the developed nation so according to the center for disease control, the rate of
death jumps 58% in north dakota between 99 and 16. that's why we've made it a priority in my office to address those underpinning the fisa decides and challenges that we confront in various pockets of our population, whether it is our veterans or native americans, young people at a growinthegrowing rate of suicidt the elderly. congress has to take steps coming into thi, andthat is bipr addressing mental and behavioral health and looking at comprehensive crisis of addiction. and can we quit just talking about opioids? talking about methamphetamines and alcohol and a cultural addiction it is the bright shiny object we always run to, but it is a cover story for a much bigger problem that we are not addressing in this country. so please, please face the
addiction challenge head on and in a broad context. i also wouldn't be me if i didn't talk about indian country facing direes challenges with of poverty abuse and addiction. for two many americans fully understand the challenges and indian country or the importance of tribal sovereignty, treaty rights and cultural heritage. i worked to educate many about the challenges along with my colleague. i also talke talk about the chas of runaway and dissing people with my colleague susan collins partner on soreat many things i've done and i think when you find people in this commitment we can do amazing and good things for the public that we all need to understand that the first people, the first americans should beul the last and when yu
have a unique position here given that your government, the united states government treaty and sovereignty rights so when you look at the disparities you can't believe that we've done right by the treaties. finally, i o want to talk about the crisis of childhood trauma which i've already addressed that just to give you some numbers, and they may be things you haven't thought about. according to a justice department study, 58% of american children have witnessed within a crime victim. traumatic experiences like abuse and neglect witnessing crimes, parentalon conflict and can lead to ongoing severe mental and behavioral health complications. for native children, these are that much more prevalent. so, when we look at the challenges ahead, there are larger issues for congressnt to
confront. members of congress can't just lookit for a quick win to talk about their states without takingir into account the long-term consequences of their actions. the congress is creating a solid future for our children and grandchildren. if we do nothing else in this chamber, that would be an important first step.t everyone makes their own decisions about how to use your time do you want to solve problems or not. do you want to do right by your children and grandchildren and that w means all of our children and grandchildren, do you want to win a reelection no matter what the cost? do you want to be able to look yourself in the near her and say i did good today clap still serving and above those about to join the chamber, simply ask those questions and i hope you'll take uyouwill take up the
important priority. for many of you, all of those priorities are the same. in fact i thought we should do an experiment. one tuesday i challenge you do have the democratic caucus, give a link to stuff the ten problems america confirms that they want to solve and have the conference do the same thing. if you match the lists they will look similar in fact they would probably be identical. public sees that you know the problem yet you can't find the will to solve the problem, then they become understandably discouraged. so, my work is into them, and i will continue to do this work from a different vantage point. as you start work in the next congress if all these challenges please consider a few things the senate only works if we enable it to. that means each of us need to do our job and we may not always agree but i know senators can work together as i have to get
results. gand i know that the gridlock d partisanship doesn't have to rule the day. i have seen it first-hand. and again a little ad lib. here i also think that you need to take power back. too often leadership determinesa the agenda. i've seen first hand we can come together and solve problems pros whether it's on climate change advocates along with climate deniers coming together on a carbonyl. if that is an indication congress compunction i don't know what is that it took political courage on both sides, particularly with my colleagues from rhode island. so i don't believe that this country or this caucus is as divided as it seems. all of us are still serving across the countryt and want people to get a good education. they want affordable quality healthcare. a good job that puts food on the
table, retirement security. all of those things that build an economy which is the foundation, it is the bedrock of the country. anople will point to the military. the military could not exist without the economic strength of this country. but i think too often politicians create a conference of dividing us. the only profession where people are rewarded forar blocking this from getting done. it's no wonder the american public has such little faith. i have a novel idea since i joined chamberlain's been determined to get results and put my state first above political party and many around both sides of the aisle know how to get results and i would encourage them to speak loudly, seek compromise and continue to do great and good work.
we need members of congress willing to take tough votes even if it puts the reelection in jeopardy. we need more members who are not too scared to stand up when party uses fear and lies to win support. support. there's a fine line between representing those who served and being representative of them. they don't always align. it's why we need to use facts and judgment to make our decision and then it's up to each of us to explain the decisions. simply put sometimes leaders are needed to move public opinion to the right side of history. remember the decisions you are cmaking especially on big poliy will have big consequences beyond today. i want to tell you about a native americanative american pd seven generations and it urges decision-making in any way to look at how the current decisions that are made in this generation will affect seven generations, the next seven.
and to think about how you can look between a much broader purpose and in my office when people would come in and have an issue of the day i would say look up. what is on the verizon? but that deficit and the looming retirement crisis, the crisis in education, the crisis in addiction. look up what are we supposed to do, the crisis in infrastructure and health care. why do we need to do today so people will look back. and don't worry about the public opinion poll because you are making decisions not just for those people today, but for the next seven generations and they have to be the right decision. so, all of you know that you are better than the outcomes of tcongress. you are nobler than the petty rhetoric that is bantered about here every day. your reputation importantly is tied to the reputation of every
other member because we have no power independent of each other. the greatest power that we have is the collective power of the united states senate. the success of your colleagues is your success and i'm great and hard things are done, and share the satisfaction of a job well done. it's been a true honor and privilege to serve as a member of the chamber and contributing to north dakota and our country and i'm grateful for that wonderful opportunity. the last six years i've made ofzing friendships with all i you i can talk about now because it iit nowbecause it is too hari want you to keep fighting for this shared dreams and those ideas that you have that will ou this country. i want you to continue to dream and continue to believe. when i came here i came to a member and i said i have a really great idea and i told him about it and he said that's a good idea. i said let's work o on it.
he said it will never happen. i said but it's a good idea. >> it's a good idea that it will never happen. i said we have to get a share. co. out of this shared culture of fear believing it can't happen. it can happen. we can do great things when we believe we can. when we refuse to believe that we are somehow limited. no one is limiting you. you are a united states senator and collectively you will make a difference. i want to thank other people. first the capitol police. jokingly only it's not a joke. some of my best friends here some of the nicest people you'll meeyouwill meet certain in the g room at some of the greatest people are painting. say hello, don't just walk by
them. they serve you and they are the work they do so they are wonderful people and i want to thank them for theirhi friendship. i want to think so many more who care about this place and also my staff who are all here. many of them are amazing people and they are going to go on to do amazing things. i say go to great and good things. you can do great things, we've seen throughout our history, do great and good things and they will. theyo are amazing. they've given so much and i know you think you have the best staff, but unfortunately i do. [laughter] a lot of them are available, just want to say. i want them to take what they've learned into their future endeavors and i want to make sure that the legacy we leave is a legacy of visas andy, stand fr
and finally i want to thank my family,wi my husband who is trailing in the clinic as we speak. my daughter and my son basin. my six brothers and sisters. i would like to say they have been my rock. finally i want to thank my mom and dad because the cost me and my siblings to stand up for what's right and have our voices heard. i know they are watching me from above and i want to thank them for raising a rowdy, boisterous and determined crew who remain best friends. my mother and father are strong and i hope i've made them proud. i yield the floor. >> joe donnelly also lost his reelection campaign aides the final floor speech where he talked about some of the issues he worked out in congress including military veteran suicide and opioid addiction. his remarks were half-an-hour.
i rise today for the final time representing the great people of indiana here in the united states senate. my six years representing hoosiers in this body and in this excitement as congressman for the second district of indiana before this among the great honors of my life. i am the grandson of immigrants, immigrants who came here with nothing except the dream of america that any opportunity can come true that if you work hard, you can accomplish anything. my dad was in the ccc for all of our young pages here who have no idea what that is, it was the civilian conservation corps. for teenagers the rage back in the depression who were asked to go to try to help raise money for the families of the other family members could