tv U.S. Senate Sen. Dean Heller Farewell Speech CSPAN December 29, 2018 12:42am-1:10am EST
yours truly. so i start a new chapter in the coming weeks. i am grateful most of all for the privilege of having served with all of you here. it is my sincere hope that those in this body will always remember the words of lincoln, who said, we shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth. the way forward, he said, is, quote, plain, peaceful, generous , just -- a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud and god will forever bless. i yield the floor. [applause] mr. heller: mr. president, i
rise today with gratitude to address my colleagues and members of my staff to reflect on one of my life's great honors, and that is serving the people of the state of nevada. i would like to thank them for allowing me to represent nevada in the united states congress for 12 and then in the united states senate for almost eight years. nevada, thank you for granting me the privilege of working every day for a state that i am so proud to call my home. and, of course, i'd like to thank my immediate family, especially my wife lynn, for being at my side for nearly 30 years of public service. to my children, hilary harris, drew, and to their spouses, thank you for your patience, your understanding and your tolerance of this process. i would be remiss if i didn't thank my parents, jack and janet heller, setting the right example in our home growing up. to my father-in-law, richard
brownback, all of my wife's family, thank you for raising such a wonderful daughter, sister, cousin, and aunt. madam president, i have five brothers and sisters, they all played a vital role in my upbringing. thank you to jack, tammy, sarah, mack, and brian. all of these individuals i mentioned gave me their steadfast support, made my journey from the nevada legislator to the to the u.s. house of representatives and to the united states senate and i could count on them every step of the way. now, madam president, we all know how important our staff is and i'm no exception. i've been fortunate to have two staff members with me my whole tenure in congress. i would like to highlight both of them. mack abrams hails from north carolina. i know more about north carolina than i thought i ever would. matt came to me from senator
vitter's office. after 12 years we mused about writing a book together because together we have seen and been through a lot. from the great recession's impact on nevada, the visit from senator reed to my -- reid to my house office, to senator ensign's resignation, the governor's appoint me to the senate, obamacare, dodd-frank, immigration reform, tax reform, changing the courts, just to name a few, mack has always been there. in this chamber there's a lot of slings an arrows and it takes an expert to walk through these minefields. no one does it along. i always had mack arams by my -- abrams by my side. i thank him of. scott riplinger also served the office with dissphinx. -- distinction. those who know scott know he is
a problem solver. it didn't matter which hat he was asked to ware, he -- wear, he wore it with pride. i will miss his hard work, his work on the banking committee, his loyalty and great sense of humor. every office needs a scott ripringer. i would like to mention sarah paul. she has become a dear friend of mine joining my staff seven and a half years ago. i have leaned on her heavily to deal with complicated issues from gaming issues to mining to technology, no one can grasp an issue like her. during her last campaign she served as my chief of staff. so, thank you, sarah, and congratulations. on thanksgiving day she introduced lener miller paul to the world. again, thank you to sarah, raymond, and big brother james
on the new addition. i would finally like to recognize ashley. ashley oversees our state operation and has been with us since the early days of the house of representatives. whether it's putting together the tahoe summit or local issues, ashley was someone i could always count on. over the past decade that i've known ashley she's become like family to me, but more important, like family to lynn. she's based in reno, but we're fortunate to have her here in washington, d.c., today, so i would like to recognize her along with mack, scott, and sarah and the many members pf my staff who are here today on the floor of the united states senate. we have a great team. i've had a great team from top to bottom, a team that includes naturalized citizens whose family came to this country seeking a better life, professional social workers, and multiple combat veterans. every member of my team in reno,
elco, los angeles, and washington, d.c., has worked tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of nevadans. madam president, my staff's dedication, enthusiasm and work ethics go unmatched. so i ask unanimous consent to have the list of current and former staff and their names printed in the record for this legislative day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heller: thank you. madam president, i would like to shift gears for a moment to mention several topics that demanded a lot of my time and a lot of my energy. when it comes to our legislative success, tax reform, changes on the court, banking reform, go down the list, i'm most proud of what we accomplished to help the 300,000 veterans who call nevada home. i think that everybody here in this chamber will agree that while we can never fully repay our debt to our nation's heroes, we can do everything in our power to show our gratitude for
their selflessness and sacrifice. once these men and women return home after leaving their families to fight for our country, it's our turn to fight for them and to make sure that each and every nevada veteran receives the treatment they need, the services they need and the skills they need to get a job to take care of their families. i see that job as a responsibility and a privilege. i said it before, and i will say it again, the greatest accomplishment i ever received in public office was when i overheard one veteran say to another, if you need help, call senator heller's office. as a senior member of the u.s. senate committee on veterans' affairs, i have had the opportunity to give our veterans a strong voice in washington, d.c. under chairman johnny isakson's leadership, we've made great strides toward bringing greater accountability to the v.a. and bringing the benefits, care, and the support that our veterans have earned. for example, earlier this year we pushed the historic v.a.
mission act over the finish line. this law directs more than $50 billion to the v.a. health care system so the v.a. can hire more high-quality doctors and allow veterans get the care they need near their homes and on their schedule. we expanded the v.a. caregivers program which increased the stipend to families who require a caregiver in their home. previously only post-9/11 veterans were able to apply. now veterans from every era are eligible. this was particular important to many veterans in nevada who told me how critical it was that we give veterans more access to this program. and these are just a few examples to fix a problem that came up during my discussions during my veterans advisory county meetings. i established these group of veterans in the southern and northern part of the state to speak directly to them about the challenges they are facing and the problems that needed to be
fixed. for stains, just a few years ago the reno v.a. was one of the worst ranked offices in the nation. this was a time when veterans were waiting on average 400 days for their disability claims to be approve. this was not acceptable, so i teamed up with senator bob casey from pennsylvania to hold the v.a.'s feet to the fire, and as a result of the implementation of the 21st century veterans benefits delivery act, the backlog has been reduced by nearly 80%, nearly 85% and 500,000 of our military heroes around the country are no longer waiting for their health benefits. we also provided accountability through expedited firing authority of bad v.a. employees an overhauled the v.a. appeals process so veterans do not have to wait years for a decision. the president signed this bill into law in reno last year. expanded veterans access to care has been one of my top
priorities. veterans living in northern nevada, i worked to authorize construction of the v.a. hospital and deliver $33.5 million in federal funding for it so that the veterans of the north don't have to drive 500 miles to boulder city to access the state veterans home. i walked through the construction site when i was in sparks last month, and look forward to the completion of the state-of-the-art facility. i did the same for veterans in southern nevada. i worked for ten years to secure the approval of the new larger clinic. for veterans who face barriers to try to get an education so they can earn a good living, i introduced a bill that increases the education benefits for guard and reserve members that ensure and -- that ensures that the g.i. bill is available to veterans for life. and after nevada was ranked second among states with the highest rate of veteran suicides and experiencing a doctor
shortage, i authorized a new law that gives veterans more access to mental health care services and treatment. so i'm grateful for the opportunity to work with chairman isakson, with realm tester, senate -- with ranking member tester, senate leadership and this administration to enact laws to provide veterans the benefits they're owed. while we made progress, we must do better. it is my hope the next congress republicans and democrats can continue to work together to get things done for our veterans. now, madam president, on another topic: tax reform. when i delivered p my maiden speech on the floor of the united states senate, nevada was struggling after being knocked down by the great recession. a time when nevada led the nation in home foreclosures and when we had double-digit unemployment. today nevada is leading the nation in private-sector job growth. the housing market has recovered. home prices are increasing.
now we're one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. nevada's booming. it's because this congress delivered tax cuts that put more money in america's paychecks, their pocketbooks, and their pensions, and we advanced pro-growth policies that have led to more jobs, higher wages and more opportunities for nevadans. as a member of the u.s. senate committee on finance i'm proud to have authored several provisions in the tax cuts and jobs act that included, for example, and not limited to doubling the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child. since the law was enacted tens of thousands of jobs in the state of nevada have been created and recently nevada's unemployment rate hit a new 11-year low. the lowest rate since the 2008 economic downturn. as a result of this new law tens of thousands of nevadans have benefited from bonuses, raises
and expanded benefits on top of bigger paychecks and strengthened pensions. i'll give you a couple of c examples. a hotel casino doubled its workers full-time bonuses. developers of the storm project on the vegas strip committed to creating over 10,000 jobs, and the prospecter hotel in ely gave its employees bonuses and raised starting wages, a direct result of the tax reform bill. nevada's economy is back on track and i hope that this congress will continue to advance policies that keep us on that path to help nevada workers and the hardworking families get ahead. let me move on. since coming to washington,d.c., my number-one focus has always been the people of nevada and putting our state's priorities first. for example, i worked with senator martin hien -- heinrich
to level the playing field for energy technologies to support nevada's energy diversification. earlier this year i was proud to host the bipartisan annual lake tahoe summit and i have worked with senator feinstein throughout my career to deliver resources to protect the tahoe basin and fight devastating wildfires. and when congress came together to approve a five-year highway bill, i was able to secure my top infrastructure priority, and that was to expand interstate 11 up to northern nevada. whether it's leading the republican charge to extend unemployment benefits in 2014 when nevada's unemployment rate was nearly double what it is now, or breaking with my party to pass the violence against women's act, i've always been willing to work with anyone who has good ideas to help move nevada families and nevada communities forward. so while i'm pleased that i've been able to work with my colleagues to turn these ideas into over 100 pieces of
legislation that are now law, this job is more than advancing good policies. it's about helping people, and that's what's most important. i work for nevadans and when someone calls with me with a problem or calls one of our offices for help, we drop everything that we do and all that we do in an effort to help them. when the v.a. refused to pay a homeless veteran $40,000 after he won his appeal, we made sure that the veteran got paid so that he could get back on his feet. when a constituent had a liver transplant and was denied coverage and left without insurance, he enrolled into the marketplace exchange. when the time came to reenroll the exchange forced him to go without insurance until my office intervened. take, for example, a woman who came to us after being charged a medicare penalty of about 40% each month. my staff worked with the local and regional offices to secure
reimbursement of $1,000 and adjust the monthly premium to save that constituent potentially thousands of dollars. and when a constituent spent nine months trying to get her social security retirement benefits, we were able to get her a resolution to promptly begin receiving her payments. and finally, when a navy veteran was in jeopardy of losing his home when he was temporarily out of work, we contacted the lender of his mortgage on his behalf and ensured that he was able to keep his home. these are just a few examples of what this job is really all about. making life better for people that you work for. and, madam president, i know that i'm not alone. i truly believe that that is what drives all members of congress and that is to serve their constituents. no matter your party, no matter your state, no matter what you did before you got here. so, madam president, before i got here, i grew up with two parents and five siblings who,
lime nevadans, embodied the battle war and spirit. i'd like to pay tribute not only to my family, friends and mentors who helped me along the way but all of my constituents by talking a little bit about what makes nevada different. nevadans are pioneers. they are not afraid to take risks, to dream, to put in hard work or to start from scratch. we are self-starters. we're builders, and we're trail blazers. we lay down the tracks to connect railroads and mines for gold and silver in the north. we shoveled mud, drilled through rocks and scaled concretes to construct the hoover dam. and in the mohave desert we created the entertainment capital of the world. one characteristic yowt -- outsiders may overlook is this, we are fighter. in no other example is the
aftermath of the october mass shooting in las vegas, a tragedy that truly shook our state. i've spoken before on the senate floor about the incredible and heroic people who helped lead concert goers and turn the community out of that darkness. whether these individuals wore uniforms or not, they stepped up to help others and their actions help us grieve and start to heal together. this immeasurable pain, suffering and devastation inflicted by one man elicited a profound and immediate human response from nevadans across the state. like many, i saw firsthand the strong sense of family, faith and the strength in the wake of the october 1 shooting. and when i leave here i will carry those moments of unity and generosity with me. madam president, during the 1989 inaugural address, former president h.w. bush once said, we know what works.
freedom works. we know what's right. freedom is right. we know how to secure a more just and prosperous life for man on earth. through free markets, free speech, free elections, and the exercise of free will unhampered by the state. regardless of what party affiliation you have, i still think we can all agree with those words. we can all agree that we are fortunate to live in a great country defended by men and women who stand guard to defend our way of life. we can all agree we're fortunate to live in a great country in which every aspiration or dream is possible to achieve. and we can all agree that this is because freedom works and that freedom is right. no, not everything comes easy, and i'd be lying if i said others didn't have to fight harder than some. but that job we want to get, that school you want to get into, that business you want to
start or that idea that you'd like to see come to life is possible in america. a country where the son of an auto mechanic and a school cook had the opportunity to deliver the newspaper, to then governor michael callahan, go to sunday school with then-lieutenant governor harry reid's sons, get his education at the same public high school as the late senator paul laxalt, or play basketball with governor brian sandoval, a place where that same kid could grow up and serve nevada in the united states senate. my goal always has been to make nevada a better place today than it was yesterday, a better place to raise a family, not only one where you can find a job but a place where you can have a long-term career. madam president, i'd like to end with this: my daughter hilary and her husband adopted a young child from china she was
abandoned as an infant at a bus station. her name is ayla. she was raised in an orphanage for the first two years of her life. when my daughter and her family first met ava, she did not cry when she was hungry. she did not cry when she was tired. she did not cry when she needed to be changed. and she did not cry when she was hurt. why? because it didn't matter. she was always on someone else's time. but she did cry when they took her shoes off to put her to bed. you see, in an orphanage kids sleep with their shoes on so that they don't get lost. ava at two years of age had never slept without her shoes
off. she did cry the first time when they bathed her in a tub of water. she did cry -- let me go back. she did cry the first time when they bathed her in a tub of water. in an orphanage you take cloth baths. so ava had never been in a bath tub. today when ava falls, someone is there to pick her up. today when she cries, someone is there to wipe away the tears. today when she's hungry, someone's there to feed her. and today when she's tired,
there's always there to tuck her into bed. and when ava grows up in this country, there will be plenty of doors that she can open that would otherwise have been closed. and i will never forget -- i'll never forget seeing my newest granddaughter in the arms of the vice president, knowing that her life had changed forever. so, madam president, this is a job at hand. to uphold this country's long-standing reputation as the land of opportunity. so i'm an optimist. i'll remain one after leaving this great chamber because i have seen remarkable moments here in washington. this body has come a long way from its early days from henry clay, daniel webster and john calhoun were navigating a divided nation and fighting to
save our young democracy. i believe that our nation's future is bright and that of nevada's future is bright. my heart has and always will be in nevada, a state that i love and a place where i'm so proud to call home. nevada, thank you for giving me the opportunity to work for you. thank you, madam president. eastern,ay 8:00 p.m. republicans peter roskam, john duncan, and mike coffman discussed losing their reelection bids and reflect on their times in congress. >> we go on our app, we go on our devices, we want things quickly. jefferson wrote this 14 years after he wrote the declaration of independence.
the ground of liberty is to begin to buy inches. we must be content with what we can get time to time and eternally press forward for what is yet to get. it takes time to persuade men even if it is for their own good. so my point is we culturally need to step back and say look, these things take time. we've got to take small steps in order to get there. >> my big thing, to think we spent trillions now on these wars, and the war in afghanistan and is now going on 18 years, i think it's just ridiculous. and i think also, these awards -- wars and foreign policies have causes to have more enemies than we would have had. they've done more harm than good. >> in the congress of the united states, i believe in the house of representatives, there's simply, still with the reforms that nancy pelosi has pledged to accept, based on my counterparts in the caucus, either there's just too much power in too few
hands with too little getting done for the american people. and i feel that's not going to change. >> watch conversations with retiring members of congress saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span and c-span.org, or listen on the free c-span radio app. >> one of george's 14 record a phone districts will send new people to the house of representatives. lucy mcbath, a delta airlines employee for 30 years, was elected to represent georgia's sixth district. and the congress she defeated karen handel. sheng one of their debates, talked about how the shooting death of her son in 2012 spurred her to run for office. >> i am lucy mcbath, and in 2012, my son was killed and what people consider the national law music case. i started questioning our leaders.
why were these tragedies continuing to happen? as i continued to ask more and more happened, why were legislators not able to keep families safe? there was silence. there was complicity. i began to understand no one was going to do anything. that's why i'm taking action. what i've noticed over and over again, as that karen handel and other republican legislators refuse to do anything about this unnecessary gun violence. they will not take action. in the end, the only things i'm a hold into in this district are the people that i talked to every single day and my son's legacy. i'm running because i'm a mother on a mission, here in marietta, to represent everyone. >> new congress, new leaders. watch it all on c-span. >> next, a discussion on technology, politics, and