U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) took to the Senate floor today paying tribute to retiring Senator Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota). Below are video and transcript of his remarks on the Senate floor.
“Mr. President, I rise today to bid farewell to my colleague and friend, Senator Tim Johnson.
“Tim has deep roots in South Dakota and in the towns of Canton and Vermillion in particular.
“He has served our state for more than 35 years, first in the state legislature, and then, after winning a highly competitive primary against two well-known Democrat opponents, in the halls of Congress.
“In 1996, after a decade in the U.S. House of Representatives, Tim won the first of his three terms in the U.S. Senate. I am well acquainted with his second election because I came out on the short end of that stick.
“But I’ve had the privilege of serving with him in the South Dakota delegation for over 16 years, and today I want to pay tribute to his many years of public service and all he has done for our home state.
“I’d also like to take a moment to thank his staff for their dedicated work.
“They have worked closely with my staff for many years, and I’m grateful for their efforts.
“Mr. President, like many South Dakotans, I will always remember Tim as a fighter.
“South Dakotans are tough, rugged folks, and Tim has exemplified that spirit every day in the U.S. Senate.
“A big part of his legacy as a public servant will be his tenacity, his work ethic, and his unwavering focus on the policies that he believed to be in the best interest of South Dakota.
“Tim and I haven’t seen eye-to-eye on every issue, but we’ve always been able to come together and work for South Dakotans in times of crisis.
“From drought relief, to flood and tornado responses, to protecting the Black Hills from wildfires, Senator Johnson and I have always been able to quickly respond to the needs of our state, regardless of party differences or past disagreements.
“Mr. President, when you represent a state like South Dakota, what some people call a “flyover” state – a state some of our colleagues here in the Senate occasionally mix up with North Dakota – there are days when it can seem like the concerns of rural Americans aren’t given fair consideration, that the needs of rural America are not being heard by the administration or the more densely populated coastal states.
“I have had the great pleasure of working with Tim to bring a voice to the concerns of rural America and those of us who hail from the middle of the country.
“To highlight just one of the many examples I could bring up, since his first term in Congress Tim has fought for water infrastructure to deliver clean drinking water to families in South Dakota and throughout the Great Plains.
“Water is a vital resource in the rural expanses of South Dakota, and Tim’s efforts have helped meet this basic need in underserved Indian reservations, small towns, and rural areas across the state.
“These investments will pay dividends well beyond his tenure in the Senate.
“Throughout Tim’s long career in public service, from his beginnings in the South Dakota Legislature to his ascension to the chairmanship of the Senate Banking Committee, he has had a hand in numerous efforts that will help South Dakotans and Americans alike for generations to come.
“And I know I speak for all South Dakotans when I say thank you for your dedication and service to our great state.
“Tim, it’s been an honor to serve with you here in the Senate.
“Thank you for your example, your efforts on behalf of our beloved South Dakota, and most of all, for your friendship.
“On behalf of my wife Kimberly and myself, I wish you, Barbara, and your family the very best as you begin a new chapter.”