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tv   Sen. Patrick J. Leahy D-VT Announces Retirement  CSPAN  November 16, 2021 9:37am-9:58am EST

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secretary for institutions and comment on his nomination and for farm production and conservation. later the senate is expected to begin work on the defense programs and policy bill. watch for live coverage on c-span2. >> today homeland security secretary mayorkas testifies on border policies before the judiciary committee. watch on c-span 3, on-line or on c-span now, our new video app. >> washington unfiltered, c-span in your pocket. download c-span now today. vermont senator patrick leahy announced he'll rely from the senate after eight terms. first elected in 1974, he's the
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senate pro tempore and the longest current senator. he announced his retirement in the vermont state capitol. >> good morning. [applause] >> i'm told i could take this off here, so i will.
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very nice, you all, this room, very, very excellent. and i thank you all for being here. it's special to both myself, not just because i used to ride my tricycle up and down these halls. [laughter] >> i actually did, a long time ago. i don't know what rules that broke. but having grown up right across the street, my sister mary is here and my brother, and decided to gather here back in 1974, our parents, our children, including son kevin was here, mark, may my sister mary and i used the room to announce my candidacy for the
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united states senate. at that time i was a 33-year-old, fourth term county states attorney and i said i wanted to launch a campaign in vermont, knowing that vermont has never sent a democrat to the united states senate and certainly never somebody of my age. but i felt that i understood the need and the values of vermont. i thought it was time for my generation to address them. one of the people i ran in preparing the dublin parliamentarian speech to the electorate of bristol and that served as my north star. he said your representative owes you not in industry only, but his judgment, but then burke said a representative ought not to sacrifice to you his conscience.
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now, many described it as an improbable win and i appreciate some of the people here in this room today who are actually with me on that -- in '74, but i came to the senate at a time of a constitutional crisis. we faced a nation broken by the watergate scandal, the resignation of president nixon and an endless war in vietnam. within just a few months of taking office, as the newest and by far most junior member of the armed services committee, we were asked to vote to reauthorize and to continue the war in vietnam. talent the support in vermont for the war was strong. but i'd always opposed it. we voted five times. each time the vote to continue
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the war was defeated by one vote. i was proud to be that one vote. my hope for vermonters would respect my judgment and my conscience, even if they disagreed with my vote to end the war. i learned early in my career hard work is exactly what they expect from their rements. the hard work part began as a member of the senate agricultural committee and i'd eventually become its chairman and we'd bring ideas to capitol hill, the forest legacy program. these problems have conserved thousands of acres of working farmland and forest land in vermont and across the country and that's why i began a program that brought tens of
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millions into the cleanup of lake champlain and now where i was proud to have 140,000 acres to vermont's green mountain national forest, one of the greatest treasures in our state. one of the things that we could do is go around the state and my son and i spent time in homes and with families that had farms in vermont, and after talking with them, i was convinced we needed a log to set standards. as chairman of the agriculture committee, the committee was finally able to pass the law that established the national organic standards and labeling program to help the organic farms that is now a $55 billion a year industry across in country, and also a great avenue for vermont.
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but i also looked at the former chairman of the committee and named it only agriculture and forestry. i brought back the word nutrition and i renamed it the agriculture nutrition and forestry committee. and i was pleased that every republican and every democrat on the committee voted with me to do that. again, by meeting with vermonters all over the state, i realized the need to have a law that allowed snap benefits to be used in farmers markets to increase our student lunch programs and to give the means to create the farm to school program. today, more than 30 million children, receive nutritious school lunches across this country because of those programs. and we've established a national program to bring school lunches with food from local farms.
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we also had a competitive fitting to legislation for the popular, but underfunded women, infants and children nutrition program. today because of those changes, more than 10 million women, infants and children received much needed food and formula and every time i saw that in the home, we see these programs growing in vermonters everyday life. cleaner water, newer markets, and providing nutritious schools for need. i hope that will be a legacy in the state for generations to come and then on the judiciary committee. i served as chairman and ranking member for 20 years and my oath in that committee was to protect the constitution i fiercely defended our civil liberties. the first amendment, our right
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to privacy and the free flow from the government to people they represent. this includes the innocence protection act. the justice for all act and the freedom information reform act all of this made the nation a better country. in this capacity, i was able to work to advance the first update to the violence against women act. and we reauthorized that, we had protections for the lgbtq community, for native american women, and to fight the sexual trafficking of children. serving on the judiciary committee also meant being there at times of crises such as of attack of 9/11. we not only had to protect our nation from outside threats from an administration that advocated some of the most
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serious rollbacks of basic civil liberties. so year after year i have worked and at times pushed back on an administration and the judicial nominations. i always work to keep the federal judiciary independent. i did that for all americans, regardless of their political background. i recommended and worked to confirm some of the top judges in the land, including the first woman to serve in the federal district court in vermont and most recently, through the nomination of beth robinson's historic nomination to the second circuit court of appeals and becoming the first time vermont is represented on that court of appeals by a woman. i'm proud of this. i'm also proud of all of the others, and i recommended to the bench and to many other
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appointments. and then after a few more years, i got assigned to the appropriations committee. now, appropriations committee may sound like a great big pile of legislation with numbers and everything else, but i said we have to do this simple. we'll just figure out how we help states and we'll do it in alphabetical order starting with v. [laughter] >> and in that capacity, perhaps the most beneficial tool, in the small state minimum, i've written into so many laws. because of these funds, vermont has the tools and resources we needed for first responders after 9/11. and when tropical storm irene devastated so many of our communities. and to help those afflicted by
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the scourge of the opioid epidemic. and my advocacy for that small state, most recently met over two and a half billion dollars to help vermont from the devastating impact of the covid pandemic, but it's also going to mean funds for long overdue projects that could be so transformative for our state. these accomplishments, i believe, came because of the first commitment i made to vermonters, the commitment to bring vermont values to the challenge we face at home and around the world. with that in mind, we've visited victims of land mines in hospitals and rescue facilities all over the world and in war zones and in places that had been war zones what we've seen has allowed me to write and pass the first law in the world, banning the export of land mines and how proud
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i've been with other countries have sent me copies of laws, they've had copy that in whatever their language was, where i could read one part of it, where it said leahy's law and it led to the victim innocent victims of weapons long after wars have ended. we've traveled to vietnam to restore relations between our countries through assistance for the land mine removal, mitigation issued. and the troops have led-- our lead members, and they've been backed by presidents of both parties. we show them what positive steps to do. work to reestablish relations with cuba. and right now, i'm working to undo the misguided policies of the last administration.
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and i'm especially proud of the leahy law which requires us, requires us to withhold american aid to units much government in other parts of the world that have been involved in the violation of human rights. it's long been regarded the most human rights tool in our diplomatic arsenal. throughout it all, i've been supported by family and the most remarkable women and men have worked with me both in vermont and in washington. i'm uniquely blessed to serve as fellow, to share my deep love and commitment to vermont. and senator bob sack who was my mentor when i came there, senator bernie sanders, congressman petersmith and
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remarkable congressman peter welch. our collective efforts are why so many continues to set an example for the rest of the nation to follow. now, i'm proud to be vermont's longest serving senator because i know my time in the senate has made a difference for vermonters and i hope often well beyond. i know i've been there for my state when i was needed most. i know i've taken the best ideas and helped them grow. i've brought vermont's voice to the united states senate and vermont's values around the world. so, yes, i'm proud to be vermont's longest serving senator. and while i will continue to serve vermont, martell and i
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have reached the conclusion that it's time to put down the gavel. it is time to pass the torch to the next vermonter who will carry on this great work for our state. and it's time to come home. i will forever carry with me the enduring bond with my fellow vermonters whose common sense and goodness is what i strive to match as their representative. thank you all for being the inspiration in the motivation for all the good that's come from my work in the senate, to rest assured that our state and our nation will remain resilient and the next generation will ensure our democracy between whole and private. later this afternoon i will join president biden and other members of congress at the
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white house. the president sign into law the largest investment in our nation's infrastructure since the eisenhower administration. and despite all odds he's done so with bipartisan support. and then we'll take on the challenging or essential path to reconciliation bill and appropriations bill. when i return to the senate, i will tell the other members of the senate what a privilege it has been to be one of only 1,994 senators in the history of our whole country. i will tell them how humbled i am by the report i receive from fellow vermonters and having been on the battle 24 times, actually between states attorney and senate, 24 times, primary and general elections, how proud i was to see my name
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on that ballot. but i will tell my fellow senators i will not be on the battle next year, i will not run for reelection, but i wanted to announce that here at home, just a few yards from where i grew up in montpelier representing you and washington has been the greatest honor. i'm humbled and always will be by your support. i'm confident in what the future holds and marcel and i will pray for that future. thank you. [applause] [inaudible conversations] . [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> thank you. as my mother and grandmother would say-- but it has been such a great part of our lives. thank you all very much.
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[applause] >> senator majority leader chuck schumer and minority leader mitch mcconnell paid paid tribute to vermont senator patrick leahy who announced he's retiring. senator leahy, who was first elected in 1974 is the longest current serving senator in the senate president pro tempore. >> mr. president. >> majority leader. >> yeah, i come to the floor today a little sad, but mentally full of gratitude. earlier today our dear colleague senator patrick leahy announced he'll retire from the senate at the conclusion of his term. this chamber has a history of dedicated servants, but only one patrick leahy, for eight terms the senator from vermont


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