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Public Statements

Farewell Address

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. CLINTON. Mr. President, I am once again, and, if confirmed, for the last time, honored, privileged, and proud to address you as a Senator from the great State of New York; to stand in this Chamber; to be amongst my colleagues with whom I have won legislative victories, suffered defeats, and made lasting friendships; to serve my fellow New Yorkers; to speak amidst the echoes of historic and fiery debates which have shaped the destiny and promoted the progress of this great Nation for more than two centuries.

And I am gratified by the overwhelming support and vote of confidence from my colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and I look forward to working with them and continuing the conversation we began on Tuesday. And of course, I am so eager to continue working closely with my friend, and the Vice President-elect, Joe Biden.

I have loved being part of the Senate, working alongside public servants of both parties who bring to bear their expertise and enthusiasm to the difficult, painstaking, and occasionally contentious work of turning principle into policy and policy into law. And I assure you I will be in frequent consultation and conversation with my colleagues here in the Senate.

I also have been so fortunate to have what is, objectively, the best Senate staff, both in Washington and in New York that has ever been assembled, led and inspired by my Chief of Staff and friend, Tamera Luzzatto.

In outlining the purpose of the world's greatest deliberative body, the authors of the Federalist Papers wrote that in part the Senate's role would be to avert the consequences of ``sudden and violent passions'' and ``intemperate and pernicious resolutions.''

Well, I think each of us at times has wished that the Senate would be ever so slightly less ``temperate.'' But it is to the lasting credit and everlasting wisdom of our Founders that we come together, representatives of every State, members of both parties and neither party, in the hopes of finding common ground on which to build a stronger, safer, smarter, fairer, and more prosperous country for our children and our grandchildren.

As I look back on 8 years of service here, and as I have spoken with many of you in recent days about the challenges that lie ahead, I find myself reflecting on the work we have done as well as the work that remains at this moment of tumult and transformation.

I asked the people of New York to take a chance on me. To grant me their trust and their votes. In the years since, as our economy has grown more interconnected and the world more interdependent, and as New York has faced challenges amongst the greatest in our State and Nation's history, I have worked hard to keep faith with my fellow New Yorkers.

I remember when I first arrived in the Senate. There were a few skeptics. Many wondered what kind of Senator I would be. I wondered where the elevators were. But I believed my charge on behalf of the people of New York and the Nation was to devote myself fully to the task at hand. So I got to work.

No sooner had I taken office, 9 short months into my first term, the Nation was attacked on 9/11. The toll was devastating and New York would bear the heaviest burden. Nearly 3,000 lives were lost. The World Trade Center lay in ruins. A toxic cloud of debris and poison rained down over first responders, building and construction trades workers, residents, students, and others.

We all remember as citizens and Senators the sense of common purpose that arose as if to extinguish the hate and violence that took so many innocent lives. In particular, I want to point out the many kindnesses of my fellow members who offered their words, and deeds, in support of the people of New York.

In one moving gesture, Senators sent staff members to help answer the ringing phones in our office as New Yorkers struggled to track down family members and turned to our offices for help. I am also grateful to Senator Robert Byrd who said at my State's hour of need, ``Think of me as the third Senator of New York.''

I remember visiting Ground Zero on September 12th with my colleague, Senator Schumer, to personally survey the devastation and to thank the first responders who were working night and day, in danger and difficulty, on what would become known as ``the Pile.''

The air was acrid. Thick smoke made it hard to breath.

We knew then that there would be lasting health problems for first responders, volunteers, workers, and others who rushed to provide assistance following the attacks.

Two days later, Senator Schumer and I went to the Oval Office and secured a commitment from President Bush for $20 billion in Federal aid for New York's recovery. In the years that would follow, Senator Schumer and I would fight successfully to ensure that money was delivered as promised.

In this and every instance, I have been grateful to have had Senator Charles Schumer as a partner and ally. New Yorkers could not ask for a more effective and determined Senator to fight for them. And I feel fortunate that if I miss seeing my friend Chuck, I can turn on the television to catch his latest Sunday press conference.

Over the past 7 years, in a fight that continues, we have worked to bring business back to downtown and to secure funding for programs to provide health screening, monitoring, and treatment for all those suffering health consequences as a result of the attacks.

We have at times clashed with the administration while holding firm to our commitment to these efforts.

And I have developed close and lasting relationships with many of the families of the victims of 9/11 who in their grief have come together to fight for health monitoring and for smarter policies to prevent future attacks.

Together, we advocated for the creation of the 9/11 Commission and for the successful implementation of its findings, including funding based on threat assessments and better resources for first responders.

These efforts would become a model for finding common ground where possible, and standing your ground where necessary. For coordinating between Federal, State and local governments. For forging new partnerships between Government, academia, labor, and the private sector, and between members of both parties. A model for decisions based on sound evidence and solid facts, and for achieving results.

This is how we approached many of the economic challenges facing New York. So many New Yorkers have lost jobs, or have seen their jobs paying less and their benefits covering less than before.

I have met many who have lost health care or seen their premiums double. Who are unable to afford a college education or find good work, or pay rising mortgage bills. Who feel as though the hardworking middle class in this country experience the risk but not the reward of a global economy.

So I have worked hard to help make investments in New York's economy, by coauthoring a law to expand renewal zone tax incentives for new jobs across upstate New York; helping to raise the minimum wage; working to extend unemployment insurance; securing $16.5 billion in transportation
funding; and increasing funds for Amtrak and high speed rail.

We passed legislation to create training programs for green-collar jobs that will help New York workers fill 21st century jobs that will in turn help end our dependence on foreign oil and fight climate change.

And we prevented the closure of military installations and facilities, including the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, Rome Labs, and the Defense Finances and Accounting Service in Rome, which keep our Nation safe and employ thousands in New York.

Even when we have faced obstacles, we have never given up. We have often promoted what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called ``bold, persistent experimentation.''

We helped expand broadband access across rural areas in the North Country.

We secured into law funding to retrofit trucks, school buses and other heavy vehicles with new clean diesel technologies developed in Corning and Jamestown.

In the Finger Lakes and North Country we partnered with eBay and local universities and companies to create 21st century co-ops that help small businesses get the micro-loans and training to reach global, not just local, markets.

In Rochester, we developed the first-ever Greenprint: a blueprint for how the city can harness its research institutions, innovative businesses, proactive local leaders, and talented workforce to become an even stronger clean energy leader.

We brought Artspace to Buffalo and secured funds for cultural centers like Proctors Theater in Schenectady, Stanley theater in Syracuse, and the Strand Theater in Plattsburgh, creating a model for urban revitalization and economic development centered on cultural projects.

I have worked to promote heritage tourism in places like Seneca Falls, home of the National Women's Hall of Fame and the site of the landmark Women's Rights Convention of 1848.

New Jobs for New York brought together more than 2,600 entrepreneurs, investors, and researchers across New York to obtain capital, share ideas, and grow New York businesses.

Farm to Fork created new markets for New York's agricultural producers in New York's restaurants, schools, and colleges. And our annual Farm Day here in the Capitol showcased New York farmers and vintners.

With investments in transportation to ease congestion and pollution on Long Island, in Westchester, and in the Hudson Valley, renewable energy and nanotechnology in the capital region's ``Tech Valley,'' biomedical research in Buffalo, Biotechnology in Syracuse, microcredit in the Finger Lakes, we have demonstrated to companies large and small that New York, with our talented workforce, world-class educational institutions, and affordable, safe communities, is a wonderful place to do business. In fact, as you know, I recently took a detour through many of my colleagues' States where I had the opportunity to brag about New York and the kinds of innovative strategies we are putting into practice.

Some 8 years ago, I first spoke on the Senate floor. The topic was, to no one's surprise, health care. And in the years since, I have continued my commitment to achieving quality, affordable health care for all Americans, no exceptions, no excuses. I was proud to be part of the bipartisan coalition which passed the ``Pediatric Rule'' into law, ensuring that drugs are tested and labeled for safety and effectiveness in children.

We have expanded newborn screening. We were able to thwart the Bush administration's attempt to undercut community health clinics and broker a compromise to keep tens of millions of dollars in HIV/AIDS funding in New York through the Ryan White CARE Act.

Because of our work, groundbreaking legislation now provides respite care for family caregivers; safety measures to prevent tragic injuries to children in and around cars; new resources for grandparents and other kinship caregivers raising children; and more affordable college for students, particularly nontraditional students who are studying while working or raising a family.

I have also been proud to serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the first New York Senator to do so, and to be the only Member of the Senate asked to serve on the U.S. Joint Forces Command's Transformation Advisory Group.

With my fellow members of the committee, we have expanded access to TRICARE for all drilling members of the Guard and Reserve; improved health tracking for servicemembers, especially important in treating complex, invisible injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury; and we have passed the first ever expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act so loved ones can take 6 months of leave to care for family members injured in service.

I have visited with members of the Armed Forces at military facilities across the State, including 10 visits to Fort Drum, and I have met with our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those recovering at Walter Reed and at the military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

From the firefighters, police officers, and citizens who responded on September 11, to the men and women of the 10th Mountain Division, known as the most deployed division in the army, New Yorkers have answered the call to serve. I have worked hard to honor the principle that we should serve those who serve us.

I am proud of the progress we have made, often against tough obstacles and even tougher odds, under the leadership of Senator Harry Reid who has led with intelligence and grit.

But of course there remains a long way to go.

The House has passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as well as the Paycheck Fairness Act on behalf of women and others seeking equal pay for equal work. I hope we can pass these bills into law. We have moved Health IT ever closer to the finish line, which holds so much potential for reducing waste, errors, and costs while creating whole new data sets for research and avenues for innovation.

I was dismayed when we were unable to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program to millions of uninsured children under the current President, though I am hopeful we will do so under the leadership of President-elect Obama. Providing health care for every single child, as we work toward coverage for every single American, is in our duty and in our reach.

There are so many other works in progress that I hope will be pursued by my fellow Senators. And I have spoken with many of you about taking on the mantle and continuing the work of legislation I have proposed over the past 8 years.

Finally, to my fellow New Yorkers, I want to express my profound gratitude. Thank you. I love being your Senator. Serving you has been the opportunity of a lifetime to continue the work of my life. To advocate on behalf of every single child's chance to live up to his or her God- given potential. To fight so that no one feels as though they are facing life's challenges alone, as if they were invisible.

And we have had fun. 8 State fairs, 45 parades, 62 counties, and more than 4,600 events across the State. But who is counting?

As I look back somewhat wistfully, and look forward hopefully, as I seek now to serve the country in a new role sustained by the same values that have motivated me for nearly four decades in public service, I am grateful to my colleagues in the Senate, to the superb Democratic staff, to my own staff here and across New York, to my supporters, and to the people of New York for this opportunity and responsibility that has meant the world to me.

I may not have always been a New Yorker. But know that I will always be one. New York, its spirit and its people, will always be part of me and part of the work I do.

I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the Senate, albeit if confirmed, in a new capacity, through this challenging time, at this defining moment, always with faith in my fellow Americans and optimism for all that we can achieve by working together.

Mr. President, I am so honored to be here at the same time with my friend and colleague whom I admire so much and have such great affection for, the Vice President-elect, Joe Biden.

I listened with enthusiasm and a lot of sentiment to the speech he delivered a few minutes ago. And the way he evoked the Senate and the relationships that are developed here and the work that is done on behalf of our country was as good as I have ever heard it.

So I am deeply honored and privileged to be here with him and to address this Chamber as a Senator from the great State of New York, perhaps, if I am confirmed, for the very last time, and particularly amongst colleagues whom I have come to respect and like so much, and whose work I believe is always in the best interests of their States and their country, even when we are not in agreement.

I am gratified by the support and vote of confidence I received earlier this morning from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And I am eager, should I be confirmed, to get to work with the President-elect and with the Vice President-elect and with all of you. I have loved being in the Senate working alongside public servants of both parties who bring their expertise and enthusiasm to the difficult, painstaking, and occasionally contentious work of turning principles into policy and policy into law.

I also have been fortunate during these past 8 years to have been served by what I objectively believe is the best Senate staff ever in Washington and throughout New York. This incredible group of people has been assembled, led, and inspired by my chief of staff and my friend, Tamera Luzzatto. I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record at the conclusion of my remarks the names of all of those with whom I have worked over the last 8 years, because I could not be standing here speaking to you were it not for them.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mrs. CLINTON. In the Federalist Papers, we often hear the reference to the Senate's role, to avert the consequences of ``sudden and violent passions'' and ``intemperate and pernicious resolutions.''

Well, to the everlasting credit and wisdom of our Founders, we do come together in an effort to find common ground.

As I look back on my 8 years of service, I find myself reflecting on this tiny piece of Senate and American history. Some 10 years ago, I asked the people of New York to take a chance on me, to grant me their trust and their votes. In the years since, as our economy has grown more interconnected and the world more interdependent, I have worked to keep faith with my fellow New Yorkers.

I well remember, when I first arrived in the Senate, there were a few skeptics wondering what I would do and how I would do it. There were stalwart supporters and people such as my friend, Senator BARBARA MIKULSKI, who kind of read me the rules of the road and set me on my way.

No sooner had I figured out the way around the Senate, actually had just moved into my office, which all of our new colleagues will eventually be able to enjoy, and had gone off on my first August recess. I never, when I was on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, understood why the Senate went on recess all the time. But after the intensity of the workload and the extraordinary pressure of both the work here in Washington and the constituency work in our States, I was thrilled and relieved to see that August recess roll around.

Shortly after we returned in 2001, our Nation was attacked on 9/11. The toll was devastating and New York bore the heaviest burden. Here I was, a very new Senator, and my city and my State had been devastated. Nearly 3,000 lives were lost, the World Trade Center in ruins, a toxic cloud of debris and poison raining down over our first responders and others.

I well remember the rallying of support and sense of common purpose that all of my colleagues and the citizens of all of the States represented here showed toward me personally and toward New York. Many of you offered not only kind words but specific deeds. Senators sent staff members to help answer the ringing phones in our office as New Yorkers struggled to track down family members or to seek aid.

I will never forget Senator ROBERT BYRD telling me at my State's hour of need, ``Think of me as the third Senator from New York.''

On September 12, my colleague CHUCK SCHUMER and I went to New York. As you recall, the roads were shut down, there was no way in or out of Manhattan other than by rail. The skies were clear. So CHUCK and I, in a plane provided by FEMA, were the only ones in the sky that day other than the fighters who were circling overhead.

We landed at La Guardia. We got into a helicopter to fly to the heliport on the west side of Manhattan, on the west side of the Hudson River. And then we proceeded, with the Governor, the mayor, and Federal officials to go toward the horror.

When we were circling in the helicopter above the World Trade Center site, we could see the smoke still coming up, because it was, of course, burning. And we could see the very fragile piles of scrap and steel teetering as firefighters, construction workers, tried to continue their search and rescue effort. That site was as close as I have ever seen to what Dante describes as hell.

It became known as ``the Pile.'' CHUCK and I and our Government colleagues walked along one of the streets, and could not even see beyond the curtain of blackness, and occasionally breaking through would come a firefighter, totally exhausted after having been on duty for 24 hours, dragging an axe, knowing already that friends and even family members had been lost.

The air was acrid. The thick smoke made it hard to breath. It burned your throat and your lungs. I knew then there would be lasting health problems for everyone who was exposed over any period of time to that air that carried so much death and destruction.

Two days later, Senator Schumer and I went to the Oval Office and secured a commitment from President Bush for $20 billion in national aid for New York's recovery. In the years that would follow, he and I have stood side by side to fight for the successful delivery of that money as promised. In this and every instance, I am grateful to have had Senator Schumer as my partner and my ally. No one fights harder or is more determined, and even though I am leaving the Senate and we will no longer serve together, I know that whenever I am missing CHUCK, all I have to do is turn on the television, especially on Sunday in New York.

Over the past 7 years, thanks to so many of you, Senator Inouye, Senator Cochran, and others on the Appropriations Committee--I see Senator Harkin and Senator Murray--you have been there with us as we have worked to recover.

I am very proud of the progress that has been made bringing New York back and securing funding for the essential programs to provide health screening and monitoring and treatment for all of those who still are suffering.

I have developed close and lasting relationships with many of the victims and the families of the victims of 9/11. I applaud and thank them for their courage and their fortitude in not only fighting for the health benefits that were so desperately needed but for the creation of the 9/11 Commission, for trying to do better on threat assessments, more resources for first responders, committed, despite their grief, to smarter policies to prevent future attacks on our Nation.

I see what we did together, and then quickly followed by that the anthrax attacks, and I remember with such incredible gratitude how we all came together. We should not only come together with that level of connection and commitment in time of disaster. This is an opportunity for us to pull together, with the new administration, to make a real difference, a lasting difference for our Nation. That is what I have tried to do as a Senator from New York.

It has been a privilege working to improve the upstate economy, working on behalf of the farmers of New York. I remember a short conversation one day with KENT CONRAD, BYRON DORGAN, TOM HARKIN, and MAX BAUCUS early after my arrival about how I wanted to help agriculture in New York.

They looked at me so quizzically and said, you have farmers in New York? I said, yes, in fact we do, about 30, 40 thousand family farms.

KENT CONRAD looked at me and he goes, you know, I do not believe that at all. So I gave a speech one day with a picture of a cow and said that this is a cow that lives on a farm, and the farm is in New York.

We had a lot of fun kidding each other but working hard together.

I am grateful for the incredible efforts we made to support the people who do the hard work in New York and America, who get up every day and do the very best they can.

In the Finger Lakes region in the North Country, we helped to expand broadband access and partnered with eBay to create a way for people to have a global marketplace, when before the market was limited to a very small region of our State.

We looked for ways to retrofit trucks and schoolbuses and other heavy vehicles with new clean diesel technologies developed by two great companies in New York, in Corning and Jamestown, to clean up our environment.

We created the first ever greenprint for Rochester--a blueprint, really, for how the city can harness its extraordinary research institutions and their business leadership and others to come up with a way to be a clean energy leader.

We worked across the State to target investments from Bioinformatics in Buffalo to cultural icons such as the Stanley Theater in Utica. I took special pleasure in working with tourism because New York is such a great place of historic culture that I believed it needed to be given more support. For me, going to Seneca Falls, the home of the National Women's Hall of Fame and site of the landmark Women's Rights Convention, the first in the world in 1848, was a labor of love.

There is a lot to look back on with great nostalgia and a lot of excitement, but I want to look forward now because we are at a turning point. I know that very well, as all of you do. Our challenge will be to come together, putting aside partisan differences and even, insofar as we can, geographic differences to meet the challenges of our time. I know our two leaders are struggling to do that as we speak. But I think this could be one of the golden eras of the history of the Senate. This could be a time when people will look back and say: You know, you never can count America out. Whenever the chips are down, we always rise to the occasion. We figure out a way forward and then we make life better for our people. We extend peace and prosperity and progress throughout the world. I am very excited about what can happen in the next 4 years. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but I know the people in this Chamber are more than up to it.

Finally, to my fellow New Yorkers, I wish to express my profound gratitude. I loved being your Senator. Serving you has been the opportunity of a lifetime. It gave me the chance to continue the work of my life, to advocate on behalf of every single child's chance to live up to his or her God-given potential, to fight hard for those who too often do feel invisible, to remedy wrongs, as I hope we will do either today or in the next few days to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as well as the Paycheck Fairness Act, to do what we know will give our fellow Americans a better shot at the kind of future that is within their grasp.

I have had a lot of fun: 8 State fairs, 45 parades, 62 counties, more than 4,600 events across the State. I look back wistfully, and I look forward hopefully. I now, if confirmed, will have the high honor of serving our country in a new role, but I will be sustained and directed by the same values that have motivated me for nearly four decades in public service.

So to my colleagues in the Senate, thank you. You have been wonderful teachers and mentors and very good friends. And to the superb Democratic staff and their Republican counterparts who keep this Chamber going day-in and day-out no matter how late we are here and how long the workload turns out to be and to my own staff here and across New York, to my supporters, and, most of all, to the people of the great Empire State, I may not have always been a New Yorker, but I know I always will be one. New York, its spirit, and its people will always be part of me and of the work I do.

I look forward to continuing my association with this body. We have much to do over in Foggy Bottom. We need your help to kind of clear up the fog, to give us a chance to operate on all cylinders with the direction and the resources and the improved management techniques I hope to bring to the job.

This is a challenging and defining moment, but I will always keep faith in this body and in my fellow Americans. I remain an optimist, that America's best days are still ahead of us.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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