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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today honored retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on the Senate floor.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):


“Mr. President, in just a few days my neighbor from Nebraska, Senator Ben Sasse, is retiring from Congress to become president of the University of Florida.


“His leaving is a loss for the Senate – not least because the average educational attainment here will drop precipitously when he leaves.


“Ben has FOUR graduate degrees – three master’s degrees and a doctorate.


“It’s no surprise that he became a college president – of Midland University – at age 37, making him one of the youngest college presidents in the nation.

“But seriously, Mr. President, the Senate will be a poorer place without Ben Sasse.


“He is incredibly smart, and he combines that with being incredibly principled.


“He lives by his principles.


“And he is always willing to do the hard things – the right things – even if they aren’t popular.


“During his time in the Senate, he’s been notable for speaking out against oppressive, authoritarian regimes.


“For standing up for the right to life of the most vulnerable and innocent Americans – unborn babies.


“For his interest in the future of work.


“For his commitment to building up our American community.


“And more.


“He’s a big-picture thinker who will get up at 4:30 in the morning and just start brainstorming on a big piece of paper.


“It’s a quality that will serve him well as a university president.


“And I can think of few individuals more suited to leading a university.


“Florida is lucky to have him.


“I know how deeply committed he will be to the university – although I have to warn them that if the Cornhuskers ever approach Ben about the position of offensive coordinator, he may be out of there like a light.


“Mr. President, it has been a pleasure to serve with Ben.


“In addition to being a tremendously smart and thoughtful guy, he’s a very witty guy who always makes me laugh.


“He and I have a lot in common, being from neighboring states.


“And I am going to miss him as a neighbor, as a leader, as a colleague, and as a friend.


“Mr. President, there’s a lot to admire about Ben Sasse.


“But ultimately what I respect the most is that he is a man of strong faith.


“And I know that wherever life takes him, his faith will continue to be his rock.


“Ben, congratulations on your appointment at the University of Florida.


“I look forward to seeing all that your vision will accomplish at the university.


“And I pray that God will richly bless you and Melissa – and Corrie, Alex, and Breck – in the years ahead.


“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”