tv U.S. Senate Sen. Mc Connell Tribute to Sen. Lamar Alexander CSPAN December 3, 2020 7:36am-7:52am EST
burnable task to honor someone who secured all 3 parts of that triple crown. the senior senator from tennessee, chairman of the committee on health education, labor and pensions, lamar alexander. when i first set foot here is a talented young senator decades later, he appeared before us as a super successful former governor and university president with a nomination to the cabinet and for the past 18 years, we served along one of the most impactful senators in modern american history. i have known lamar alexander for more than 50 years. we first met in 1969 when i was working for freshman senator named marlon cook and he worked in the executive branch.
we met at the suggestion of his previous boss and mentor senator howard baker. either he suspected our paths might cross a result two serious young guys with lively social lives. this may shock you, mister president but i'm afraid young lamar alexander and young mitch mcconnell did not go crazy and paint the town red. i will take a 5 decade friendship any day. both of us headed back home to continue our careers. it was clear a bright future in elected office likely lay in store for him. lamar's reverence for public service started early. i believe he was 10 years old when his father, himself a longtime local official, took him to meet his hometown congressman, howard baker senior, the father of his future boss shook the boy's hand and handed him a dime.
i think lamar was hooked. decades later when lamar announced his 1996 presidential run he was in his hometown of murrysville, beginning with a story about his mother. she had read where he described his upbringing as lower middle-class and she had taken umbrage at that. after all, he had a library card and music lessons. in her words, quote, everything you needed that was important. and i certainly had loving parents. this son of two educators grew up steeped in the importance of schooling. he later referenced his mother's work in early childhood education by saying he is probably the only secretary of education in history who spent five years in kindergarten. the passion would remain
throughout lamar's career. his cutting-edge focus on improving opportunities and reforming education benefited tennessee hugely in the 1980s. our whole nation during his time and president bush xli's cabinet. that is not the only way lamar has honored his roots. you couldn't walk across the state of tennessee in a plaid shirt and get elected governor before the age of 40 and serve four combined years as governor and senator than anyone else in history. without becoming entirely intertwined with the place. every corner of the state is better for his service. his groundbreaking work to bring home good paying auto jobs has paid dividends, so has his major focus on infrastructure and better roads. even building a statewide and national reputation does not always always translate into honest-to-goodness celebrity
status. i understand following lamar's governorship the stretch of highway was fittingly named the lamar alexander parkway to honor him. i further understand some time later lamar alexander was driving on that very road and stopped for breakfast. when it was time to pay for his food he handed over his credit card. the woman on the other side of the counter glanced at the name on the card and back at lamar alexander and she said were you named after this road? as a man of faith i am certain lamar alexander those luke chapter 4, no promise is accepted in his hometown but apparently neither is statement to be recognized on their own highway. here in the senate's impact has been massive.
the convictions that fueled it have been straightforward. he starts with a very firm framework. the right of center principles ronald reagan used to rebuild the confident america to beat communism, the federal government, states, neighborhoods or our lives but lamar alexander's career confirms conservative governance is not a contradiction in terms. there are genuine public goods the government's job to secure. public roads, public land, public education, certain aspects of public health. he is dedicated himself to making those things better and stronger especially for those who need opportunity the most. this vision allow the greatest traditions of the republican party and american fishing, government that is limited but
effective and smart. a system where power stays close to the people and working families can thrive and prosper. these principles made our colleague a nationally known leader long before he was sworn in as a senator. they reached full flourishing with chairman alexander's astonishingly effective leadership right here in this body. students, families, teachers benefit every day from the every student succeeds act. chairman alexander's historic bipartisan makeover following no child left behind. one report called it the largest evolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century. millions of medically vulnerable americans have a champion in their friend from tennessee, the overwhelmingly bipartisan 21st-century cures act was the single most important law of the entire 100 fourteenth congress is paving
the way for more innovation to benefit patients who have no time to waste. another lamar alexander production. his leadership was instrumental in the landmark legislation to combat the opioid epidemic. just this year he was the driving force behind the great american outdoors act. public lands for generations to come. the list doesn't end there. there have been other educational wins like permanent funding for historically black colleges and universities and simplifying the student loan process. there have been a lot of music modernization acts hammered out with senator hatch, from two musical virtuosos in their own rights.
senator alexander knows 50 different issues as well as most senators know three or four. he is hands down one of the most brilliant, thoughtful and effective legislators any of us have ever seen. he likes to say this about the senate. it is hard to get here, it is hard to stay here. so while you are here you might as well try to accomplish something. mission accomplished and then some. if you review senator alexander's resume and results without knowing the main you might expect he arrived as an established hotshot. but even as lamar has mastered the levels of power here his character has never been tempered by washington. lamar remains clear that he was in tennessee the whole time. we have had more than a master
legislator. we have been blessed with sober, honest statesman, someone who cares as much about preserving the institution as the near-term results he can ring out of it. from daily conversations to the most dramatic moments on the floor whether in the minority or the majority, to treat colleagues exactly as he would hope to be treated. he worked to build consensus in a consensus based - one of the most brilliant people i have met in my life, his mind is a steel trap. i understand he likes to keep the staff experts locked around
the conference table for long sessions turning a complex issue over and over until they arrive at the best path forward for the country and the most precise and concise way to communicate. mastery of policy, mastery of the english language and can't forget to mention my friend's good cheer. he looks like a motto he inherited on alex haley, find e good and praise it. i myse have relied on his wisdom for many years but i prefer it just as much on his optimism, his can-do spirit, his ability to look on the bright side.
and how hard work could make it brighter still. so i am going - i am going to miss our regular dinners even with our weeknights scheduling and official one drink limit. like i said we weren't exactly party animals. but he is something else that never changes,eassuring it is to see lamar alexander sitting across from you.
for eight years, charmed and impressed more voters during various campaigns and devoted her own career to public health. they shared love and mutual respect, inspire every one, the finest in law the u.s. senate could ever have. without my brilliant friend, it is an honor. the most distinguished public servant, earned the right to spend more days, tomorrow morning waking up at blackberry farmers much larger share with the family. six years ago it fell to lamar to eulogize his friend and mentor howard baker, when it came to the senate there was
howard baker and the rest of us but my friend for 18 years has been lamar alexander and for the rest of us. i am sorry in a few more weeks. the rest of us left, you're leaving this body and those of us in it, the nation it exists to serve stronger and beer because you were here. >> democratic leader. >> thank you, mister president.