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tv   U.S. Senate Sen. Pat Roberts R-KS Farewell Speech  CSPAN  December 28, 2020 5:08am-5:35am EST

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policy ville. the lawyerske with committee for civil rights under the looks at civil rights in the trump and biden administrations. and republican strategist adam goodman looks at the future of the party. we sure to join the discussion with your phone calls, he spoke comments, -- facebook comments, texts, and tweets. for the latest video to follow the transition of power. president trump, president-elect biden, news conferences, at >> senate members who will not serve in the next congress have been giving farewell speeches in recent weeks. next, we hear from retiring senator pat roberts, who spent 15 years serving in the house of
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representatives and 22 years in the senate. y colleagues, first i thank the leadership on both sides for this opportunity to give the pat roberts adios amigos speech. as a fourth generation kansan, my great grandfathers on both sides of the roberts-patrick family, were pioneer newspaper editors who came to kansas as crusading abolitionists. to say i believe fourth generation printer's ink would be very close to the truth. the main influence that drew me to public service was my dad, wes roberts, who was a newspaper man and soon journalism led to politics. he served as chief of staff and
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advisor for several kansas governors becoming the state republican chairman. in 1952, my dad was asked to head up the citizens for ike campaign which was a genuine army of volunteers made up of legions of veterans, women's groups and republicans who wanted a candidate who could win, plus they really liked ike. at 16, at my dad's tow, i was a sergeant at arms at the 1962 convention back when the conventions actually chose the nominee for president. i vividly remember two lasting experiences, the renowned senator from illinois, everett dirksen was a key leader of the bob taft campaign. he was in the midst of his convention remarks when the entire new york delegation, led by former governor and
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presidential candidate tom dewey, marched in and with considerable noise they took their seats. dirksen paused and pointing directly at dewey and with his booming voice said this, you, sir, have led this party, this republican party, down to defeat in 1944 and again in 1948. don't do it again. where upon the entire new york delegation stood up and gave dirksen the raspberry, and i thought this is what adults do at a convention. one morning i was in a meeting with my dad with the top ike campaign brass, dewey, lodge, brownell and other g.o.p. movers
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and shakers. he told me to sit and be quiet. he was in the midst of suggesting the fair play amendment, given that the new ike elements from the solid south surprised the old guard and won delegate seats at the state convention only to be replaced by the old guard at later conventions. unlike mccarthy, old guards never die or fade away. my dad said there was no downside if they lost and he believed that they could win a majority of delegates and the fair play amendment passed and ike won on the first ballot. and i thought to myself, wow, my dad actually helped ike win. i met the general. i shook his hand and then again at the 1953 inaugural ceremonies when my dad became the republican national chairman. it was these reflections told to my great friend and medal of
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honor recipient senator danny inouye, he said, dan, i fought for ike, you met him. it's up to you to get this memorial done. after a 21-year effort we did just that with help from bob dole, jim baker, susan eisenhower and the eisenhower family and senator lisa murkowski who kept the commission going through those years. we have an appropriate, if not stunning memorial to the kansan who saved western democracy in world war ii and led america on to the world stage. with a final dedication of the dwight david eisenhower memorial at the end of my senate career, it is a full family circle accomplishment. if my dad helped to elect ike, the least i could do is leave a memorial on the mall to a great
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general and president a reality. eisenhower famously said the proudest thing that i can say is that i am from abilene. he was a small town kansas boy who served western democracy and led the nation for eight years with peace and prosperity. i too came from a small town in kansas. how did this boy from holton, kansas, become the longest serving member in kansas city. like father, like soon. i graduated from k state with a journalism. my dad saw -- i was joined in peace time -- i joined in peacetime and served on okinawa and was part of the first marine contingent to serve to iwo
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jimma. i dropped everything and drove to washington when senator frank carlson asked me to come and work for him. within weeks of leaving phoenix, i was the chief of staff for senator carlson, a highly respected senator who made his mark on kansas city as the only person to serve our state as congressman, governor, senator, u.n. delegate and the founder of the national prayer breakfast. life changed dramatically at that time. i always thought a bachelor was a man who did not make the same mistake once. then into my life came a tall, blond, blue-eyed magnolia blossom from south carolina. frankie and i have been married for 51 years and blessed with three children and eight grandchildren. i am who i am because frankie is
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my wife and we are parents to david, ashley, and wesley, papa pat to lorraina, patrick, siaka, lily, charlie, charlie bear, myles, oliver, and graham, my family is my crowning. -- crowning achievement. senator frank was a great mentor. he said there are no self-made men or women in public office, it is your friends and family who make you what you are. he taught me a great lesson. your true friends stand behind you when taking the bows and beside you when taking the boos. i worked for 12 years for the newly elected congress from the big district as chief of staff. keith sabelius was a wonderful man he was on the interior committee and had improvements
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and restoration of our national parks. upon keith's retirement, a group encouraged me to run. thought about it, talked to frankie. frankie simply stayed, well, this is what you always wanted to do. let's do it. so for nine months with no paycheck or health insurance and limited savings with three young children, dodge city became our home. most sane candidates would not attempt to go door-to-door in a district larger than most states. however, with with a lot of help, we won a tough primary and not so tough general election. the first -- the first of 24 straight victories. i was ranking chairman to lagarza. suddenly i was chairman. in 1996 we achieved a major
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foreign policy reform, changing 40 years of farm bill policy. to this day farmers still have the freedom to farm what they want. i have had the honor and privilege of representing kansas for 16 years in the house and now 24 in the senate. the pat roberts of 1908 was fight -- 1980 was fighting for kansas values and for issues that affected the daily lives and pocketbooks of all kansans. the pat roberts of kansas of 1996 i promised when washington spoke, kansas would listen. and i -- it's what happened during my tenure as chairman that i believe i have had the most lasting effects. it's not just having the gavel, it's what you do with it. taking part and leading eight farm bills in the house and
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senate, i have touched and improved many lives and mindful of what farm families do for our nation in a trouble and angry world as we crafted each bill. i was fortunate that my first committee assignments were to serve on the arms services committee as well as agriculture. strom thurmond was the very senior chairman who never even called me by my name. i was recognized as, quote, the senator who had the good sense to marry a fine, beautiful south carolina girl. my role on the armed services comoitd was simple. it was -- committee was simple, to collect the small change by the air force to continue to have the air corps as a the new war fighting lab. i had the privilege of being the senate intelligence committee chairman for four years during the iraq war and led the committee's investigation that
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exposed a worldwide intelligence failure and it resulted in a blueprint for the 9/11 commission and a better intelligence community that did keep our country safe. as chairman of the brand-new emerging threat subcommittee within the armed services committee, i traveled to cities of what remained of the former soviet union. and one of the soviet union's secret cities, we discovered a lab that had developed strains of pathogens that could do irreparable harm to our nation's food supply. talk about an evil empire. i cautioned my colleagues, that threat still exists. even as we endeavor to continue the worldwide fight against covid-19. it has taken over 20 years to respond to this threat with the biological containment and research lab, and we are still not done. i put a lifetime of work into
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end bath national bioand defense facility, home of kansas state university. it will soon serve as the first line of defense to protect american agriculture and the world's food supply. i have also been privileged to serve on the help committee. thank you to lamar alexander and to patty murray for supporting my amendments, especially with regard to rural health care. and finally, i have chaired the senate ethics committee for 24 years. i have tried to resign twice. i don't know what i have done wrong, but i have been a member of that committee for what i am sure is a record 24 years. i think they just want somebody there to say wait a minute, 15
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years ago we tried that and it didn't work. maybe we ought to start over. as i move out of my office, formerly a veritable museum of pictures, awards and stuff that we all collect, all that remains are the barren beige walls full of memories and stories, all of which of course are classified. however, i still have my marine corps bumper sticker -- to err is human. to forgive is divine. neither is marine corps policy. marines never give up. we take the hill and the discipline and focus i learned in the marine corps never failed me in my toughest battles here in the senate. semper fi. semper fi, dan. and still in the office, of course, a framed statement with the advice of l.b.j., lyndon bains johnson. sometimes you just have to
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hunker down like a jackass in a hail storm and just take it. on that note, if you want to avoid a hail storm, get a good staff. you're only as good as your staff, andist best staff in washington. i know everybody thinks that, but i really do because they always, they always took the hill. my cheefts of staff, leroy towns, jackie patrell, d.c. deputy chief of staff amber hershkoffer, they led the posse and they always checked to make sure that the herd was still there. and we didn't ride in any boxed canyons. to the staff currently in this chamber with me and those watching on c-span, thank you. it has been an absolute privilege and an honor to have you call me boss.
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always remember you are a family. i couldn't have asked for a more loyal and dedicated or talented staff. now to be a member of this united states senate is a true privilege, a working family. it is the greatest deliberative body in the world. but today as compared to when i first came to the senate, it's the deliberative part that gives me great concern. i regret the loss of comity, the ability to work together, or just to get along. sadly, gridlock appears to be the new normal. however, it doesn't have to be this way. i am very proud, i have had the privilege of being chairman of a committee that does get along, and we do get things done -- the senate agriculture committee. and it's really not that hard. first we represent the best of our nation -- farmers, ranchers, growers, and the entire food value chain.
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we know that we have a collective job to do on their behalf, and we do just that. second, we convene in a small hearing room in pre-covid times, right across the table from each other. third, for the most part we actually know one another. i used to be the ranking republican when senator stabenow was the chairperson. we worked together on the 214 farm bill. in 218, this wasn't our first rodeo. we knew regardless of what each of us wanted passing a farm bill was paramount. we had an agreement, no surprises, no press the other one did not know about, and we held hearings together all over the country. i went to the campus of michigan state and wore green and white. debra came to kansas state and wore purple. we not only agreed to work together, we gave staff marching orders to do the same. we also became friends.
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i protected her. she protected me in conference, and we got 8 7 votes setting the record for a farm bill standing rite -- right there where our leader is sitting. i was trying for 90. he said what do you want? i said i want justice. he said no, you want blood. now ordinarily we do not vote alike, senator stabenow and myself, but we remain friends, and that's the way it should be. friendship and comity is the norm for the ag committee. it could be for the whole senate. and though things in this great country are rocky, i have a news flash. these really are not the worst of times. when i first came to washington in early 1967, our nation experienced the tragedy of the assassination of dr. martin luther king.
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within hours washington was on fire. marines on the capitol steps with sandbags, automatic weapons with live ammunition. advised to leave the beltway, i mistakenly thought i could get to my parents' apartment house. this was b.f. -- before franki. i wanted to take the rock creek parkway. no traffic was moving, tear gas in the air, random gunshots. i decided to jump the curb and drive on the sidewalks and eventually on the mall itself. i was in a little volkswagen. the police told me the parkway was closed. when they focused on the next drivers i jumped the curb and took off on the parkway. as bad as that period of time was it was not as bad as the military march with thousands of world war i veterans demonstrating on the mall and setting up camp. president hoover ordered them removed by the military, led by
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none other than douglas macarthur complete with a tank, horse calvary with swords and armed troops. fast forward, the 1968 chicago riots, kent state, the horrible shooting of students by untrained guardsmen. senator bobby kennedy running for president only to suffer the same fate as his brother. and then came watergate. those days were tough. it was almost impossible not to face the bitter splits over our political parties and even families. so today we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, and even that has fallen into politics. but it doesn't have to be. at home, kansas has been dealt its fair share of hardships, but in kansas, as jerry moran
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knows, we don't let disasters define us. we grab our bootstraps and get to work. that is our normal. jerry will remember multiple prairie fires that ravaged kansas farms and ranches. the anderson creek fire, the star bucks fire in 2017. these flames move at 60 miles an hour. those folks learned to adapt and build back with the help of the usda disaster programs. then wield the tale of -- we had the tale of creeks kansas, an extremely unhealthy place for folks to live. we will worked with the obama administration and its e.p.a. i mean really. no less, we relocated them to safer places literally and greener pastures because working across party lines is what we do in kansas.
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let's not forget about the e.f. tornado in 2007 that completely destroyed, wiped out the community of greensburg, kansas. i immediately called president bush. he was up at camp david. and i called from mcdonald's in the next town and asked for help. when i hung up, there were 25 people gathered around me listening. one old timer in his bib overalways said to me -- overalls said to me, pat was that the president of the united states? i said you bet. he turned to his wife and said i told you pat was talking to the president, we'd get help and fema was there the next day. in a fema issued tent i talked to graduates and told them you are the class of hope and destiny. the following year president george w. bush spoke at graduation in greenhouse gasesburg.
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the size -- in greensburg. i am reminded of the optimism of those speeches and the optimism that i have for our country. we endured these hardships. we came out the other side. we did it by changing the old normal and creating a new normal here in the senate only we can decide what our new normal is, and we ought to get to know one another. we don't know one another. we don't have to let the apparent gravitational pull of more and more politics and pursuit of power to change what our founders gave us -- the creation of a nation of liberty and freedom, the envy of the world, and to literally move the united states senate from the moorings of its historic and great path to simply be a rubber stamp for radical change. the beauty is that we can decide what our normal is.
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we don't have to let circumstances dictate our future. let us once again become a body of respect, humility, cooperation, achievement, and yes, friendship. that can and should be our new normal. the entire country could use a little bit of what we say in kansas -- to the stars through difficulty. so as my time in the senate draws to a close, i have done my best to improve the lives of kansans and all americans. for decades to accomplish big and small things so that this generation and future generations might live and achieve the american dream. to kansas, i say a humble thank you. thank you for the privilege of representing you in this great body. to my colleagues, thank you for fighting on behalf of our great
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nation and alongside me to preserve this chamber. it has been such a privilege. so as i ride off into the sunset to create a new normal for franki and me, i will be cheering for the senate to rebuild the bridges of comity that will create a new normal. my colleagues, my time is up. thank you for you >> they begin in the house today with a vote over whether to override the veto of the defense authorization bill. in his veto message, president said he objected to the bill's failure to remove a section protecting social media companies.
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if the veto override is successful in the house, it to the senate. the house may also try again to increase the covid stimulus checks to $2000. 2:00ouse gavels in at p.m. on c-span on tuesday. youru are watching c-span, unfiltered view of government. america's created by television companies. today, we are brought to you by these television companies that provide c-span to viewers as a public service. udallatic senator tom recently gave his farewell speech, reflecting on his decades of service in congress. last year, he announced he would not seek reelection.


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