Retiring Senator Saxby Chambliss from Moultrie gave an emotional farewell speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate Wednesday.
He thanked his family and current and former colleagues... mentioning both Republicans and Democrats by name.
He said his greatest satisfaction was helping Georgians and having a positive impact on their lives.
“I am privileged today to represent almost 10 million Georgians who are the most wonderful people God ever put on the earth. I lost my first primary election and went on to win each of my next seven races. I won every one of those seven because I shared the values of my constituents, I outworked each of my opponents, and I had better ideas and the best advisors and staff,” said Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Republican.
Chambliss also thanked members of the military for their service and implored members of Congress to take action to control the national debt which just passed 18-trillion dollars.
A copy of his entry speech can be read below:
“Mr. President, as my service in the U.S. Senate comes to an end, I rise today to say thank you to some of the wonderful people who have been a part of a great ride over the last 20 years. We as Americans are so fortunate to live in the greatest country in the world. A country where the American Dream is still alive and well. A country where in spite of all our problems, we are the envy of the free world. A country where a preacher's kid from rural Southern Georgia can rise to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and then to the U.S. Senate.
“We as members of the U.S. Senate are fortunate to have the opportunity to serve, and we are blessed to be able to work every day in such an historic venue as we are in this afternoon. As we come into our offices and into this building every day, there are some things we take for granted. To the entire Capitol Hill workforce from those who clean our offices, to those who change the light bulbs, provide our food, maintain our subways, keep us safe and secure and to all those in between, I say thank you. You are very professional at what you do, and you always do it with a smile.
“To the floor staff from both the majority and the minority, thanks for putting in the long hours, listening to often boring speeches, reminding us when we have not voted, for scheduling floor time, reminding us of the rules, and making sure our mistakes are at a minimum.
“I have been fortunate to be surrounded by great staff during all of my 20 years in the House and the Senate, mostly young people from varied backgrounds who are the brightest minds my state and my country have to offer. They are committed patriots and loyal to the core. To those current and former members of my staff, thank you for your service to me and to the State of Georgia.
“I have been served by four Chiefs of Staff, Rob Leebern, Krister Holladay, Charlie Harman, and Camila Knowles. Every office plan that each one of them put together starts with providing better constituent service than any other member of the House or Senate. I am extremely proud that our record shows we achieved the goal of doing just that. I have even had government agency personnel call my office asking for guidance on cases from other offices.
“I've often said that my greatest satisfaction from this job comes not from negotiating major pieces of legislation but from being able to help Georgians with difficulties they are experiencing and having a positive impact on their lives.
“I am particularly blessed to have three members of my staff who have been with me for all 20 years. Teresa Ervin, Debbie Cannon, and Bill Stembridge have walked every mile with me and have been so valuable. Thanks guys.
“My greatest support comes from my family. My wife Julianne, daughter Lia and her husband Joe, my son Bo and his wife Bess, along with grandchildren John, Parker, Jay, Kimbrough, Anderson, and Ellie have all been somehow involved on the campaign trail. Come the 28th of this month, Julianne and I will have been married 48 years, having met at the University of Georgia a couple of years before that. For tolerating a husband who had a 24/7 job for 20 years, for being a single mom part of that time, and understanding why I could not get home until Christmas Eve some years, I say thank you sweetheart.
“I am privileged today to represent almost 10 million Georgians who are the most wonderful people God ever put on the earth. I lost my first primary election and went on to win each of my next seven races. I won every one of those seven because I shared the values of my constituents, I outworked each of my opponents, and I had better ideas and the best advisors and staff. Thanks, Tom and Paige.
“Thanks to Senators Nunn and Miller for their regular advice and counsel. Thanks to my three leaders, Senator Lott, Senator Frist, and Senator McConnell, each of whom provided me with strong leadership and always listened to me even when I had ideas different from their ideas.
“I am often asked what I will miss most about the Senate. The answer is very easy—I will miss my friends and the relationship we have developed over the years. Senator Isakson and I entered the University of Georgia 52 years ago this September and became friends immediately and we have been the dearest of friends ever since. He is without question the most trusted friend and advisor I have and I will miss our daily conversations. My three best buddies from my House days, Speaker John Boehner, Congressman Tom Latham, and Senator Richard Burr, along with Senator Tom Coburn have been legislative collaborators, dinner partners, golfing buddies, confidantes, and numerous other things that should not be mentioned on the floor of the United States Senate.
“Senator Graham is like a member of my family. We have traveled the world together many times learning a lot. I have no plans to write a book, but if I did Lindsey Graham anecdotes would fill a chapter.
“Senator Feinstein has been a great Chairman and partner on the Intelligence Committee. I will miss her leadership, her wisdom, her friendship and those late afternoon glasses of California wine.
“My most productive time in the Senate has been spent with my dear friend Senator Mark Warner, who has come to be another dear friend. Our work with the Gang of Six, which included Senators Durbin, Conrad, Coburn, Crapo, and then later Senator Johanns and Senator Bennet represent the very best of everything about the Senate. We spent hundreds of hours together debating ideas and trying to solve major problems and we came very close. Senator Warner's insight, his wanting to solve problems and his political inspiration are lessons that I will carry with me forever.
“As the Senate now goes forward under new leadership, I have two comments. First, the Senate should return to regular order. Senator McConnell has indicated that will be the case and it should be. The Rule change by the current majority changed the institution of the Senate in a negative way. I hope the rule is changed back to require 60 votes on all issues including judges and nominees. Some of those most vocal favoring the rule change lost their elections, and while the Rule change did not cost them their election, it is very clear that the American people wanted a change in the leadership that changed the Rule. Regular order will help in restoring trust and confidence to the world's most deliberative body.
“Second, it is imperative that the issue of the debt of this country be addressed. Just last week, our total debt surpassed $18 trillion. We cannot leave the astronomical debt our polices have generated up to our children and grandchildren to fix. It is not rocket science as to what must be done. Cutting spending alone, i.e. sequestration, is not the solution. Raising taxes is not the solution.
“As Simpson-Bowles, Domenici-Rivlin, and Gang of Six agreed, it will take a combination of spending reduction, entitlement reform, and tax reform to stimulate more revenue. Hard and tough votes will have to be taken but that is why we get elected to the United States Senate. The world is waiting for America to lead on this issue and if we do, the U.S. economy will respond in a very robust way. The Gang of Six laid the foundation for this problem to be solved, and it is my hope we do not leave the solution for the next generation.
“I close with what I have enjoyed most about Congress. That is the time I have spent with the men and women in uniform and those in the intelligence world, all of whom are willing to put their life in harm's way for the sake of our freedom. Whether it was Robins Air Force Base, Kabul, Ramadi, Jalalabad, Khowst, or Dubai, I always get emotional telling the men and women how proud of them I am and how blessed we Americans are to have them protecting us. They are special people who sacrifice much for the sake of all 300 million Americans.
“Let us also remember and be thankful for the families of those military and civilian personnel who likewise make a commitment to America. As we head into another Christmas season, many of those families will not have at home their spouse, their parent, their son or their daughter. May God bless them, may God bless this great institution, and may God continue to bless our great country.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”