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Public Statements

Honoring Senatorial Service

Location: Washington, DC

HONORING SENATORIAL SERVICE -- (Senate - December 06, 2006)


Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I rise today to bid farewell to a decent and principled member of this body, MARK DAYTON. Over the past 6 years, Senator Dayton has proven his dedication to the highest ideals of this body through his devotion to economic justice, education, and health care concerns.

In October 2002, MARK DAYTON voted against the Iraq war resolution, despite the fact that President Bush was presenting fairly convincing evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and most of the Nation was supportive of the decision to go to war. MARK DAYTON held to his convictions, and history will judge him favorably because of it.

As a Senator, MARK has donated his entire Senate salary to help his constituents pay for prescription drugs. His salary goes to the Minnesota Senior Federation for ``Rx Express'' bus trips to help senior citizens buy cheaper prescription drugs in Canada. In the Senate, he has fought to make such trips less necessary by proposing the Meeting Our Responsibility to Medicare Beneficiaries Act to permit the Government to negotiate prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. He has also introduced the Taste of Our Own Medicine Act to require Members of Congress to share the same prescription drug benefits as Medicare recipients.

MARK DAYTON's 6 years in the Senate are a continuation of his lifelong commitment to public service. He previously worked as a teacher on the Lower East Side of New York, as a counselor for runaways, and as the chief financial officer for a social service agency in Boston. He worked for Senator Walter Mondale and campaigned with him during his Vice Presidential bid with President Jimmy Carter. MARK also served twice as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Energy and Economic Development.

MARK DAYTON has used the economic experience he gained as commissioner, and as Minnesota State auditor to help American workers during his time in the Senate. He has supported extended unemployment assistance and an increase in the minimum wage while opposing outsourcing of American jobs.

Senator Dayton has been a strong supporter of increased funding for education. He introduced the Nontraditional Student Success Act and the Restore the Dream Act to help students pay for higher education. He has repeatedly insisted that Congress live up to its promise to America's public schools and children by offering amendments to fully fund the federal government's commitment to special education. MARK has also fought for additional career and technical training.

During his time in this body, MARK DAYTON has nobly stood up for the American people. In a speech on the Senate floor, he noted: ``A government of the people, by the people, and for the people is a government that tells the truth to its citizens. If it doesn't, it is not a government of them, not by them, and certainly not for them. It is imperative.''

Although MARK DAYTON's voice will no longer be heard on the Senate floor, I know that he will continue to do great work for Minnesotans and for all Americans. I am proud to have served with him and wish him all the best.


Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I rise today to bid a fond farewell to my dear colleague and role model, Senator PAUL SARBANES, Maryland's longest serving Senator.

Senator Sarbanes represents the greatest traditions of this body and of our country. He is the type of Senator we all imagined in high school civics class--intelligent, diligent, effective, and thoroughly decent. During the course of 30 years in the U.S. Senate and another 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Maryland House of Delegates, Senator Sarbanes defined what it means to be a trusted public servant in America.

Paul Sarbanes grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the son of Greek immigrants who instilled the values of opportunity and fairness in their child. Motivated and hard working, Paul attended Princeton University, studied in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and earned a law degree from Harvard.

Paul first came to the Nation's attention during the Watergate hearings, where as a freshman member of the House Judiciary Committee he introduced the first article of impeachment, which related to obstruction of justice by President Nixon. Paul's own ethics and integrity are beyond reproach, and he has brought dignity and credibility to every task.

In the Senate, Paul's legacy reflects his ideals of opportunity and fairness. He has continually fought for legislation to aid veterans, seniors, workers, and indeed, all Americans. He is a tireless champion for his constituents, his country, and the highest ethical standards. As a Princeton alumnus, he has lived Woodrow Wilson's ideal of ``Princeton in the Nation's Service.'' Each and every day, Paul demonstrates that politics can be an honorable profession. It should be an honorable profession, and I can think of no better model for that ideal than Paul Sarbanes.

In Senator Sarbanes' tenure as both chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Banking, he led the fight on behalf of working-class Americans to ensure affordable housing. He was instrumental in developing and enacting the National Affordable Housing Act of 1990, legislation that helps States, local governments, and nonprofit organizations work together to build, buy, and rehabilitate housing that hard-working people can afford. Paul has also worked to protect Americans from unscrupulous lending practices and discrimination. His hearings and legislation on predatory lending brought this problem to the attention of the Nation, and his work to reduce the cost of private mortgage insurance helped make home ownership a reality for millions of Americans.

After Enron collapsed under the weight of widespread abuse and accounting fraud, thousands of workers woke up to see their jobs and life savings gone, investors lost billions, and the public cried out against corporate malfeasance. The credibility of American business and our financial system was on the line. It was Senator Sarbanes who brought his intelligence and concern to bear to restore investor confidence and implement safeguards against Wall Street abuses. He held comprehensive hearings, nurtured a bipartisan coalition, crafted thoughtful legislation and shepherded it through Congress with Representative Mike Oxley in the House.

The Sarbanes-Oxley law was the most comprehensive overhaul of corporate oversight laws since the Great Depression. It created a standard of transparency and accountability to assure investors and protect workers. It is a towering achievement that will strengthen the American economy for many years to come.

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve with Senator Sarbanes on the Foreign Relations Committee. I have marveled at his keen intellect and commitment to his responsibilities. During committee hearings and committee markups, Senator Sarbanes is always well-prepared, asks direct, insightful, and important questions, and makes sure that no stone goes unturned.

He has played a key role in virtually all of the significant foreign policy debates that have occurred during his 30 years of service on the committee. As a freshman, he was involved in the successful ratification of the Panama Canal Treaties. He worked to enact tough antiapartheid laws in the 1980s. And he has developed a long and impressive record on international economics, foreign assistance, and human rights issues.

The American people have been well served by Paul's leadership, and this institution would be well served if each of us was a little more like him. On behalf of all of us, and for my constituents, I want to thank him for his service and his example.

Let's wish Senator Sarbanes and his wife Christine well in this next phase of their lives. But let's also hope that we will continue to hear Paul's voice on important policy issues. He may be retiring from this body, but I suspect his commitment to strengthening this country and improving the lives of all Americans will continue. For that, as much as for all that Paul has accomplished through his distinguished career in the Senate, we should be grateful. I know that I am.


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