FAREWELL TO THE SENATE -- (Senate - October 02, 2008)
Mr. ALLARD. Mr. President, I would like to now wrap up with a few comments. I have now spent 12 years in the Senate, 18 years in the Congress all together, when you consider the 6 years I served in the House of Representatives. I can say it has been a great experience. In my view, I have represented the best State in the Union. We refer to it as the "Centennial State'' because it joined the Union exactly 100 years after we became the United States.
It has always been enjoyable to talk to my colleagues and talk to visitors to the Capitol about my State of Colorado because they have usually had great experiences when they have visited my State. It is a tourist attraction. We have a lot of things that bring people to Colorado. It is a beautiful State. People have great vacations when they go there, and they are more than anxious to share their wonderful experiences with me, share the wonderful and welcoming attitude they experienced from the people of Colorado, and share with me how much they have enjoyed visiting the great State of Colorado.
And, when people get tired of talking about the great State of Colorado, we have always been able to talk about their favorite cat or their favorite dog because, as a veterinarian, it has always been a common interest among many of my colleagues in the Senate, as well as visitors to our office, to talk to me about their favorite pet. So it has been a wonderful experience.
This is the greatest legislative body in the world. It is an honor to serve here. There are a lot of dedicated employees who have helped me get things done in this body. They put their own political preferences aside and thought of the well-being of the institution. They have always been very polite and most supportive and helpful. I wish to thank them.
I have had great employees in my office. I wish to mention that you get things done because of the people with whom you surround yourself. I have two members who are currently on my staff who have served with me since I was first elected to the Congress.
I was elected to the House of Representatives in 1990. They came in with me and worked with me on the House side for 6 years and then they came over here and continued to work in my office for the last 12 years. I appreciate their dedication. Those kinds of people don't come along everyday. They spent 18 years with me, bless their souls. The two I speak of are Sean Conway and Doris Morgan. Both of them have been dedicated staff people who have helped to make my service to the people of Colorado successful.
There are also some staffers who joined me after I became a Senator in 1997, in addition to the two I mentioned, including Andy Merritt, who is now my State director; Dick Poole, who is one of my top staff people; Tewana Wilkerson, who has helped me on the Banking Committee; and Kris Hanisch, who has helped us balance our books as well as helping us to move through the maze here in the Senate. We do have our own little bureaucracy in the Senate. She knows it and understands it and has helped us move through it. She has been my office manager and has kept us on the straight and narrow. I appreciate the dedication of all of the employees who have worked with me.
I have a great group of employees currently serving me in my office. We have had a number of people who have come and gone, but I never felt it was because they were disappointed in having to work in our office. When I talked to people who came to work as employees in my office, I would say: If your ultimate goal is to work in a Senate office, I want you to rethink your goals. I want you to get an experience here that will help you grow once you leave the Senate, so you can be a better citizen, so you can contribute more fully to whatever path you decide to assume once you leave this great body and leave our office. So I have always tried to encourage them to think about
where they want to go. We have had employees who have worked in my office, continued their education, and have become very outstanding. I have a number of former staff people who are actually serving in elected office; I think some five or six people right now who are serving. They decided to go back to Colorado and pursue elected office. I congratulate them, as they are very active citizens in their communities.
I wish to mention some of the committee chairmen I have had an opportunity to work with. One of the committees I was successful in getting on was the Budget Committee, with Pete Domenici as chairman, and then Judd Gregg following him, and now we have Senator Kent Conrad. All of these chairmen have been very gracious and helpful in working with me on issues.
Then I have had the chance to serve on the Armed Services Committee. Senator John Warner, a great friend, and somebody who is retiring and who has been very helpful, served as the chairman of that committee while I was on the Armed Services Committee.
I also served on the Banking Committee. The first chairman I served under was Phil Gramm and then Richard Shelby and now Chris Dodd. I have to say I have been blessed with great leadership on all of those committees.
I also served on the Intelligence Committee. I served with Senator Shelby, who was chairman, and Senator Kerrey who was ranking member at the time I served on the Intelligence Committee.
Now I serve on a different committee this Congress, the HELP Committee. It deals with health, education, pension and labor issues. My well-known colleague here in the Senate, Senator Kennedy of Massachusetts, is chairman of that committee. He is a wonderful person and someone whom I greatly appreciate and who has spent a lot of time in Colorado, I might say.
I also serve with my very good friend who was chairman of that committee for a while, Senator Enzi. I couldn't ask for a better friend. He is from Wyoming, a neighbor of Colorado. So we had many issues in common, and both Joan and I consider Diana and Mike Enzi as our very good friends.
I wish to say a few things about those people who are retiring, starting with Senator Pete Domenici, who I mentioned was my chairman on the Budget Committee. I have worked with him also on the Appropriations Committee. I worked with him on energy issues and issues that are common to New Mexico and the State of Colorado. His service here in the Senate has been remarkable and dedicated. The West has been blessed that we have had such a good spokesman as Senator Domenici out there, carrying many of the issues that are important to his neighboring States, as well as New Mexico. The institution will miss him. I am sure New Mexico will miss him. I consider it an honor and a pleasure to have served with him.
Senator Warner I mentioned earlier. We couldn't ask for a greater statesman. He has made a number of trips to Colorado. I worked with him on the Defense Authorization bill. He has been more than considerate and helpful to those issues that are important to Colorado. He has been supportive on matters that we worked on for Fort Carson and for Peterson Air Force Base and the Air Force Academy and the many other issues involving the military and military installations we have in Colorado. He has been tough at times, but his leadership has been greatly appreciated by me. I think the Senate and the country have been blessed because Senator Warner has been willing to dedicate so much of his time and effort to making this a better country, a stronger country. He is somebody I am very proud to have been able to serve with.
Also retiring is Senator Larry Craig from Idaho, another westerner with whom I found a lot in common. He and I both have strong agricultural roots. He has been a very strong advocate of those issues important to the West and his State of Idaho. Again, I have appreciated working with him on national park issues and public lands issues. He is a superb individual.
Another individual I wish to recognize who is retiring is Senator Chuck Hagel from Nebraska; again, one of the neighboring States of Colorado. The State of Nebraska is downstream from Colorado. So we have ribbed each other a little bit about water issues. Basically, though, we have been partners on water issues. We have been able to work together on many issues that have improved the management of water in the Platte River drainage system, which is one of the many rivers that originates in Colorado and flows downstream. I also worked with Senator Hagel on the Banking Committee. He was one who pushed early on for the reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He brought to this institution a great deal of experience. Again, he has decided to retire the same year as I have. I will always remember Senator Chuck Hagel and our relationship and how we have been able to work together, I think for the betterment of both of our States.
I would be remiss if I didn't brag about my partner and my wife, Joan Allard. Joan has spent much of her time being with me, whether I have been in Colorado or here in the Senate. Senator Mitch McConnell talked about the town meetings she attended. She attended about as many of those town meetings as I. It has been kind of embarrassing at times because sometimes the number of people who came just to see her in the back of the room was large and they were having more fun back there than I was, up front trying to conduct the meeting. People loved Joan as they got to know her throughout the State of Colorado. Her dedication to me and to her family and the people of Colorado is remarkable and unique. We are known as partners here in the Senate. Wherever I go, Joan is very close by, and people are used to seeing us both at receptions. Many times I was invited to events where they wanted me to come alone. I said: No, I want my wife with me, and if you can't accept my wife, maybe we won't make the reception, because she is somebody who I didn't want to be divorced from this process. She has been willing to make a personal commitment in time and in supporting me in my work. So I wanted to make sure that the responsibilities of serving in the Senate didn't drive a wedge between what a wonderful relationship we have had. She worked side by side with me at the veterinary hospital. We worked and met the challenges of raising two wonderful daughters whom we are very proud of, and now we are seeing grandsons coming up. So I couldn't have asked for a more dedicated wife. We still have a lot ahead of us. I am very pleased that she was willing to take an interest in my job of representing the people of Colorado.
The first vote I took in the House and in the Congress was on whether to authorize the first Gulf War in 1991. That was a tough vote. I have now possibly cast my last vote on the economic bailout or the stabilization act we voted on yesterday. So my congressional career has been bookended by hugely significant votes that have humbled me in terms of the trust the people of Colorado have granted. I wish to thank the people of Colorado who have been supportive and who have expressed their views to me in my town meetings, letters, e-mails, faxes, and phone calls. My office has sent out roughly 2.1 million constituent letters since I was sworn in. I say honestly that I relish every opportunity to hear from and explain myself to the people of Colorado. Even those who weren't supportive and who expressed those views in town meetings, letters, e-mails, faxes and phone calls, I thank them for that.
I have no regrets and leave this institution with a clear conscience. I feel as though I have been true to my campaign promises and have worked to hold down taxes, hold down spending, hold down the growth of government here in Washington, and I have fought to balance the budget. I feel as though I have worked to defend local control and keep America strong. I have kept in mind private property rights and the power of the State in managing its own water resources.
It is time to say goodbye and wish my colleagues the very best, and to wish my successor, whoever that might be, the very best. It is time for Joan and me to move on, hopefully returning to a future in the private sector. I
came to Washington with small business experience, and I hope to continue working in the business sector. The challenge, as I see it, is for future Congresses to protect the freedom that continues to create opportunity for us and future generations and to ensure that we have a secure America.
May God bless America, and may God bless Congress's future endeavors.
I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.