Nation’s most senior Senator delivers farewell speech

Sen. Patrick Leahy spoke on the Senate floor as he prepares for retirement.
Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 9:06 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - For the past 48 years Senator Patrick Leahy has made history on Capitol Hill. Now as he prepares for retirement, he is addressing his fellow lawmakers in a farewell speech on the floor of Congress.

“I used to walk to the Capitol in my time here as a law student at Georgetown University Law Center. I’d sit in the gallery. I’d watched transfixed as the Senate debated the most pressing issues of the day. Back then I could have never imagined that I’d one day etch my name into one of these desks,” he said as he reflected on the nearly 17,000 votes he has cast in the Senate.

Third in line in succession to the presidency, Leahy has become a mentor and friend to nearly all of his fellow lawmakers.

Watch Sen. Patrick Leahy’s full farewell speech on the Senate floor here

When he first won his election in 1974 he was 34-years-old, the youngest U.S. Senator to ever be elected from the Green Mountain state. Now he is President Pro Tempore. He has served as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee. He also sits on the Judiciary and Agriculture committees. He has been a champion for human rights, government oversight, the environment, death penalty reform, privacy rights, and freedom of speech online.

“It’s also always been the place where I had the privilege of fighting for Vermont – the place where I was born, the place where I met Marcelle, the place where we started our family, and the place to which early in the New Year we will return together to our birthplace,” he said on the Senate floor.

In his farewell speech to the Senate, Leahy urged his fellow lawmakers to work together and to keep their word as they move the nation forward.

“Together, you can build a Senate defined not by soundbites, but one strengthened when women and men with a sense of history insist that our republic move forward. For the sake of all those children and their children, and all children and all Americans, it not only can be done, it has to be done,” he said as he added “representing Vermonters has been the greatest honor. I am humbled, and always will be, by their support, and I am confident in what the future holds. But that will be up to all of you.”

Over the past month, multiple lawmakers have spoken on the floor to express their respect for Sen. Leahy including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

As chair of the appropriations committee, Senator Leahy has been integral in brokering negotiations to avoid a government shutdown. He has released a memoir of his time on Capitol Hill called “The Road Taken.” He plans to spend retirement in Vermont with his wife, children, and five grandchildren.

Read more on Sen. Leahy’s legacy in this one-on-one interview with Washington News Bureau reporter Jamie Bittner.