U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today honored U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) for their years of service in Congress. Thune acknowledged each of them for their significant contributions to the country and noted they will be missed by their friends and colleagues in the Senate. Thune extended his best wishes to Gardner and McSally in their next endeavors.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute to two senators whom I had hoped to serve with longer – Cory Gardner and Martha McSally.
“Mr. President, one of the first things that became clear about Cory Gardner when he came to the Senate was that he is an incredibly hard worker.
“He is tireless.
“Cory has a great sense of humor, and I remember back during impeachment, when we were working some really late nights, he left 5-hour ENERGY drinks for all of us in our mailboxes.
“And I’ve got to say, Mr. President, you kind of need a 5-hour ENERGY drink to keep up with Cory.
“Seriously, though, Cory has a tremendous amount of energy and focus and drive, and he’s left it all on the field during his time in the Senate.
“I think he knew when he was elected that he might not be here forever, and he has made every moment over the past six years count.
“He’s a results-oriented guy; he’s interested in getting things done.
“And he’s built an impressive record.
“Serving the people of Colorado has been the first thing on his mind every day, and he’s spent a lot of time working on Colorado priorities, from protecting our public lands, to improving wildfire preparedness, to expanding health care access for veterans by ensuring the completion of the VA hospital in Aurora.
“But he’s also been a leader on foreign policy issues, specifically on the issue of holding North Korea and China accountable for their lack of freedom and their human rights violations – such as China’s mass incarceration of Uyghurs and its targeting of Chinese citizens who dissent from the Communist Party line.
“Cory has also been a great friend to Taiwan.
“Among other things, he authored the TAIPEI Act, which the president signed into law earlier this year – legislation that makes it U.S. policy to support Taiwan’s efforts to strengthen its relationships with countries in the Indo-Pacific and around the world.
“A free, prosperous, and safe Taiwan is in the interest of the United States, and Cory understands this well.
“Mr. President, in addition to being one of the hardest-working people you will ever meet, Cory is also one of the most pleasant.
“He has an upbeat personality and a contagious cheer, and committee hearings and meetings are always more enjoyable when he’s around.
“He’s been called a happy warrior, and it’s a fitting title.
“He’s an eternal optimist.
“And I don’t mean that in a naïve, wide-eyed sort of way.
“Cory is well-aware of the challenges we face, in our nation and around the world, but he genuinely believes in our country and in our ability as citizens and as members of Congress to make life better for our fellow Americans.
“And over his six years here in the Senate, he has helped make life better – for his constituents in all four corners of his state, and for the American people.
“Nobody could have worked harder for Colorado over the past six years.
“And he has done more for his state in a single term than many have managed to do in twice as long.
“Mr. President, we were fortunate to have Cory here in the Senate.
“I will miss serving with him.
“But I look forward to seeing what he does next.
“Whatever it is, I am confident of one thing: it will be great.
“Mr. President, I didn’t get as much time as I would have liked to work with Martha McSally.
“She spent just two years with us here in the Senate, but she made the most of them.
“Martha’s record is well-known.
“Twenty-six years in the Air Force.
“Multiple deployments to the Middle East and Afghanistan.
“First woman in U.S. history to fly a fighter jet in combat.
“First woman in U.S. history to command a fighter squadron in combat.
“Six air medals.
“Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The list goes on.
“I’m a long-time runner and basketball player, so I’m pretty committed to exercise, and one of the places I got to know Martha after she came to the Senate was in the Senate gym.
“Martha was a regular.
“I’ve always thought you can tell a lot about somebody by the way they approach physical exercise – something I saw with my dad.
“He was a World War II fighter pilot who embodied the humility and quiet service that characterized the Greatest Generation.
“And those traits carried over into his approach to sports.
“He was a basketball coach at my high school, and humility and service were the values he emphasized the most.
“Your job as a member of the team was to make the team look good – not to make yourself look good.
“If the team needed you to make a basket, then great.
“But if the team needed you to pass the ball so someone else could make the basket, then that’s what you did.
“So as I said, I’ve always thought you can tell a lot about someone by how they approach physical exercise and sports.
“And Martha approaches exercise with determination and intensity.
“She pushes herself to her limits.
“And those are qualities she’s displayed throughout her career – whether she was breaking glass ceilings in the military or fighting here in Congress to protect the A-10 “Warthog.”
“She’s made the most of her two years in the Senate, tying for the most bills signed into law during her first year.
“And Arizona has benefited from her tenacity and commitment.
“Mr. President, Martha is tough and determined.
“She’s also kind and generous – all traits that were displayed in her farewell speech last week.
“There was a lot to admire in that speech.
“I was particularly struck by the gratitude she displayed.
“A lesser person might have betrayed some bitterness at the brevity of her time here.
“Martha was just grateful.
“Grateful for the opportunity to serve.
“Grateful for the team who worked with her.
“Grateful for what she was able to accomplish for Arizona.
“I am grateful to have not only served with her but to have had her as part of the whip team in this Congress.
“Unsurprisingly, she was a dedicated and effective deputy whip.
“And I will miss having her on the team.
“At the end of her farewell address, Martha said, and I quote, “Today represents a change in seasons for me and I don't yet have clarity on what my next mission is, but I do know who is the author and finisher of my faith and that he created each of us with purpose.”
“Mr. President, I am confident that the author of our faith has more great missions in mind for Martha McSally.
“And I look forward to seeing her take them on.”