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tv   U.S. Senate Sen. Mc Connell Tribute to Sen. Lamar Alexander  CSPAN  December 6, 2020 6:19pm-6:36pm EST

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large -- non-slave states. so no sooner had he been elected that south carolina makes good on its promise to proceed towards seceding from the union. day, her, on election had no choice given the resounding nature of the vote. it was clear he had lost the election. but he never conceded the argument. he continued to believe that the new deal, as roosevelt had framed it during the campaign, and began to work towards it after the election, represented the fundamental threat for the american way of life. so he devoted himself to preventing roosevelt from being able to and act it. >> contentious presidential transitions, tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a. >> senate leader mitch mcconnell gave an emotional speech about his friend and colleague, tennessee republican senator lamar alexander, who is retiring.
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he reflected about the friendship, going back to when they were senate staffers. after senator mcconnell's remark, we'll hear senator alexander's farewell speech. sen. mcconnell: mr. president, on a complete different matter, the senate revolves around people. the body consists of 100 individuals. one of our key duties concerns the personnel that we examine and confirm. and there are all the dedicated staff professionals that makes it go. i'd like to honor someone who does all three parts, lamar alexander. foot here as a talented young staffer.
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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, the other 99 of us have gotten to serve alongside one of the most impactful senators in modern american history. lamar for more than 50 years. 1969, when i was working for a freshman senator named marlo cook. and he worked down in the executive branch. we met at the suggestion of his previous boss and mentor, senator howard baker. either he suspected our paths mike ross again later or he just saw two serious young guys that needed livelier social lives. now, this may shock you, mr. president, but i'm afraid young lamar alexander and young mitch mcconnell did not exactly go crazy and paint the town red.
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but i'll take a five decade friendship any day. both of us headed back home to continue our careers. it was already clear a bright future in elected office likely lay in store for him. lamar's reverence for public service started early. i believe he's about 10 years father, himself a longtime public 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 then and there. decades later, when the more announced his 1996 presidential run, he was in his hometown of maryvale. his speech began with a story about his mother. he had read where lovingly described his upbringing as lower middle class. and she had taken umbrage to that. after all, lamar had a library
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card and music lessons. ything youds, "an needed that was important." i would certainly add loving parents to the list. he'd later reference his mother's work in early childhood education by saying he's probably the only secretary of education in history, and history, who spent five years -- in history, who spent five years in can regard. that passion would remain with lamar -- in kindergarten. that passion would remain with lamar throughout his career. it benefited tennessee hugely in the 1980's. and our whole nation during the time in president bush 41's cabinet. it's not the only way lamar has honored his roots. you couldn't walk the entire state of tennessee and be
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elected governor and serve more years than anyone else in the history of the volunteer state 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. but it does not always translate into status. the lamar alexander parkway was named to honor him. i further understand, sometime later, lamar was driving on that very road and stopped for breakfast. when it was time to pay for his food, he handed over his credit
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card. the woman on the others of the counter glanced at the name on the card and back at lamar. hey, she said, were you named after this route? -- this road? [laughter] as a man of faith, i'm sure lamar knows chapter four, "no prophet is accepted in his own town." apparently neither are statesmen on their highway. here in the senate, lamar's impact has been massive. and the conviction that fueled it has been straightforward. he starts with a very firm framework. the right-center principles that ronald reagan used to build a prosperous america and beat communism. the federal government isn't meant to take over states, neighborhoods, or our lives. but lamar's career has also confirmed that conservative
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governments is not a contradiction in terms. genuine public it is the government's job to secure. public roads, public lands, public education, certain aspects of public health. he's dedicated himself to making those things better and stronger, especially for those who need opportunities the most. this vision allowed for the greatest traditions of the republican party and indeed, of american history. government that is limited, but effective and smart. a system or power stays close to the people and working families can thrive and prosper. these principles made our colleague a leader long before he was sworn in as a senator. but i'd say they reached full flourishing with chairman alexander's effective leadership
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right here in this body. students, families, and teachers benefit every day from the every student succeeds act. chairman alexander's extraordinary bipartisan makeover following no child left behind. one called it the largest contribution to the federal states in a quarter-century. millions of medically vulnerable americans also have their champion in our friend in tennessee. peers act --ing bipartisan cares act was the single most important law of that congress. it's paving the way for more innovation and faster innovation to benefit patients who have no time to waste. another lamar alexander production. his leadership was instrumental in the landmark legislation we've had two years ago to combat the opioid epidemic. just this year, he was the
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driving force behind the great american outdoors act, the senate's historic project to secure parks and public lands for generations to come. now, the list doesn't end there. there have been other education wins, like funding for historically black colleges and universities, and simple flying the student loan process. there have been laws like the music modernization act, which lamar hammered out with our former colleague, senator hatch, a legislative duet with two music virtuosos in their own right. senator alexander knows about 50 different issues as well as most senators know three or four. mosthands down one of the brilliant, thoughtful, and effective legislators the house is overseen. -- has ever seen. it's hard to get here. it's hard to stay here. so while you're here, you might
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as well try to accomplish something. well, mission accomplished, and then some. if you reviewed senator alexander's resume and results without knowing the man, you might suspect he arrived as an established hotshot and threw his weight around. but even as lamar has mastered the levers of power here, his character has never been captured. lamar remained clear that he's just been on loan from tennessee this whole time. so we've had more than just a master legislator to call upon. been blessed with sober, honest, deliberate statesman. aboute who cares as much preserving this institution as the near-term results he can wring out of it. from daily conversations to committee business, to the most
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are medic moments on the floor, whether in the minority or the majority, lamar has taken pains to treat his colleagues exactly as he would hope to be treated in their shoes. he's worked a bill consensus and a consensus-based body. he's cherished and defended the senate. and it's no exaggeration to say lamar alexander is one of the most brilliant people i've met in my life. his mind is a steel trap. i understand he likes to keep his staff experts locked around a conference table for long sessions, turning a complex issue over and over until they've arrived at the best path forward for the country, and the most precise, concise way to communicate it. mastery of policy, mastery of the english language, and i can't forget to mention my friend's good cheer. lamar really does live by the
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motto he inherited from his good friend and fellow tennessean, the late author alex haley. find the good and praise it. i myself have leaned on the mars wisdom for many years -- on lamar's wisdom for many years. laid think -- i think i've on his candid spirit, his ability to look on the bright side. and how hard work can make it brighter still. -- i'm going to [clears throat]
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i'm going to miss our regular dinners. even with our weeknight scheduling, an official one drink limit. like i said, mr. president, we weren't exactly party animals in our 20's either. but here's something else that weighing aes, to be thorny question and sing lamar alexander sit across the table -- seeing lamar alexander sit across the table. [clears throat]
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you know, the senate can be all-consuming. it's not our only calling, but their spouses and loved ones can get folded into them around here. mr.grateful it turned out mcconnell is not the most special person in lamar alexander's life, not by a mile. she is a wonderful woman. she is a force of nature and an incredible partner for lamar. she raised a family in the governor's mansion for eight years. she turned and impressed lori moore -- more voters than lamar himself. she devoted more to public health and philanthropy. they showed love and mutual respect and inspire everyone that she's about the finest in law the senate ever had. we're grateful to call her our friend, as well.
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as much as i'm dreading life in the senate without my brave friend, even i can begrudge him this of relining. -- the silverlining. the most distinguished public servant has earned the right to flyfishing, walking trails in the smokies, more mornings waking up in blackberry forests, and a much larger share of time with his family. about six years ago, it fell to lamar to eulogize his friend and mentor. here on the floor, he quoted another senator who said when he came to the senate, there was howard baker, and then there was the rest of us. but my friend, for 18 years, has been lamar alexander, and then there's been the rest of us. so i'm sorry that [indiscernible]
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[indiscernible] that you're leaving this body and those of us in it in the nation it exists to serve stronger and better because you were here. sen. alexander: mr. president, i thank my friend mitch and my friend chuck for their remarks. i will have more to say to them later. on march 9, 1967, senator howard h. baker jr., the newly elected senator from tennessee, made his maiden address, his first speech on the floor of the united states senate. he spoke for too long.


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