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Public Statements

Department Of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I rise to honor our colleague and good friend, the senior Senator from Utah, who is about to cast his 12,000th vote. Today, Senator Hatch becomes part of a small group. He is now one of fewer than 15 Senators in history, and the only Senator in the history of Utah, to have cast 12,000 votes in the well of the Senate.

The people of Utah have elected Orrin Hatch to this body six times, and I am sure they couldn't be more proud to see him reach this milestone. For more than 32 years, he has been a phenomenal representative of the Beehive State. He has made sure no one in Washington, as he likes to put it, has been able to push Utah around. He has also made a lot of sacrifices in the process. A few years ago, when Senator Hatch was deciding whether to run for reelection, his wife Elaine asked him if maybe it was time to leave Washington so they could have a life. Orrin responded with the words of a public servant: ``This is our life,'' he said. ``My life is a life of service.''

It actually started out early. As a young man growing up in Pittsburg, Orrin was elected to the student Senate and then as student body president at Baldwin High School. Later, at Brigham Young University, thanks to an alphabetical seating chart, he met Elaine Hansen. It was probably the only thing he ever got in his life simply by way of good luck.

Orrin was always a hard worker. As a boy, he sold eggs from his family's chickens. He worked as a janitor in college. He left Brigham Young with a degree in history and went on to make some history himself, becoming the longest serving Senator in the history of Utah and one of the most influential and well-known Senators of our time.

Politics came naturally and quickly. Before winning a Senate seat, he had never held elected office. A tireless campaigner, Orrin set out across his State to meet the people of Utah and to tell them how he could help them in Washington. His message and his work ethic earned him their respect and it earned him 54 percent of the vote.

From the moment he was sworn in, Orrin kept his early pledge. He has helped the people of Utah and all Americans keep more of their hard-earned money by sponsoring tax relief legislation. He has been a champion of health care reform, particularly children's health, through his work on the Finance and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committees.

Senator Hatch is also known to millions of Americans as a veteran member of the Judiciary Committee. He has been involved in the debate over eight--eight--sitting Supreme Court Justices.

He has been a major player in recent debates over national security, energy, labor, the second amendment, and the current debate over health care, and he has done it all in the spirit of bipartisanship, earning the friendship and respect of every Senator in this Chamber. No one who has ever met Orrin Hatch isn't struck by his courtesy and the dignity with which he carries out his duties. For Republicans, he is a good friend, a constant ally, and one of the best advocates we have. To Americans, he is the very picture of a Senator.

Incidentally, he is also one of the most prolific songwriters ever to serve in Congress. He wrote all 13 songs from one of his albums over the course of one weekend, and well-known musicians such as Gladys Knight have sung his songs. But he will never be accused of false modesty when it comes to his
talents as a songwriter. Orrin once told a reporter: Everybody loves my music.

In everything else, though, Orrin is happy to share the credit. He will be the first to tell you that his success wouldn't be possible without his family. So today we also honor Elaine, their 6 children, and their 23 grandchildren on this very historic occasion.

These milestones are important because they testify to hard work and commitment. But they also give us an opportunity to recognize colleagues whom we admire and respect, colleagues such as the senior Senator from Utah.


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