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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today honored retiring U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) on the Senate floor.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, we’ll be losing several members to retirement at the end of this year, including my friend Roy Blunt.
“Roy and I have served together for the majority of my time in the Senate.
“And I also served with him for several years in the House of Representatives.
“We started in the House at the same time, and we became friends right away.
“Our wives have become friends as well, and it has been a joy over the years to host Roy and Abby in South Dakota, along with their son Charlie, and to visit them in Missouri.
“On a personal level, I’m going to miss Roy a lot.
“And the Senate as an institution is going to miss Roy as well.
“Roy is someone who aspires to be involved in doing the hard things, and throughout his congressional career, he’s put himself forward for positions where he can make a difference.
“He became chief deputy whip just two years after becoming a member of the House, and he was elected majority whip just four years later – winning the position earlier in his career than any member of Congress in eight decades.
“It’s been a similar story in the Senate, where Roy was elected vice chairman of the Republican Conference in his first year.
“In 2019, he became chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, which plays an important role in providing members and staff with the resources they need on the issues.
“And he’s done that while also serving as the top Republican on the Senate Rules Committee.
“Mr. President, Roy has always been committed to doing the big things.
“But he’s also very solutions-oriented, and very clear-eyed and practical about what’s achievable in a place where it’s hard to get things done.
“He has a saying – “Never announce publicly what you won’t vote for.”
“And what he means by that is that you shouldn’t back yourself into a position where you can’t support a good compromise – that while it’s not always possible to get everything you want, you shouldn’t let that stop you from doing as much good as you can.
“Mr. President, Roy has done a lot of good work during his time in Congress.
“And one of his lasting legacies will be his bipartisan achievements in the health care space, including his efforts to help create and expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics program to improve access to mental health care and championing medical research.
“The facility housing the NIH’s Center for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias is actually named after Roy in honor of his longtime work to support dementia research.
“And of course no mention of Roy’s legacy would be complete without mentioning his stalwart advocacy for the people of Missouri.
“Mr. President, I will miss Roy.
“And the Senate will miss Roy.
“But I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve together, and I am happy that he will have more time to spend with Abby and with his children and grandchildren.
“Roy has made a lasting impact here in Washington.
“And I look forward to seeing his next chapter.
“Mr. President, shortly before Thanksgiving, one of the great icons of the Senate, Senator Jim Inhofe, gave his farewell speech.
“And I wanted to take the time today to honor his service.
“As I said, Jim is one of the icons of the Senate, and it is difficult to imagine things here without him.
“Over his 28-year career, he has built an incredible legacy, particularly when it comes to building up our military and developing our relationships in Africa.
“One of the first trips I took when I got to the Senate was a trip with Jim to Iraq and Germany to meet with some of our troops and talk to military leadership.
“I like to think I’m a pretty energetic guy, but I was left in awe by Jim Inhofe.
“He was like the Energizer bunny.
“He left people half his age in the dust.
“I don’t know anybody who works harder than Jim.
“He leads by example.
“And his legislative achievements are a tribute to his tireless service.
“Mr. President, everyone knows that Jim Inhofe is an accomplished legislator.
“But not everyone knows that Jim is also an accomplished pilot.
“He has over 11,000 flight hours – I mentioned he’s like the Energizer bunny – and he has flown an airplane around the world.
“I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be his passenger once as we flew around Oklahoma, and it remains one of the best flights I have ever taken.
“Mr. President, while I deeply admire Jim’s work ethic and his legislative achievements – and his piloting prowess – the thing I appreciate the most about Jim is that he is a man of deep and profound faith.
“I’ve been blessed to gather with him and other senators for Bible study for a number of years now, and I don’t think he’s ever missed a session.
“When I think about Jim, I think about the verse in 1 Peter that says, “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.”
“Jim Inhofe is always ready to give that defense.
“Jim isn’t a man who pays lip service to his faith.
“He models it and lives it.
“In word and deed, he is a great ambassador for his Savior.
“And I will miss his presence and his witness.
“Mr. President, while I will miss Jim being in the Senate, I am glad that he and his beloved wife Kay will now have more time to spend together and with their children and grandchildren.
“And I wish him the very best of retirements.
“He has more than earned some time off.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”