[Congressional Record Volume 155, Number 8 (Wednesday, January 14, 2009)]
[Pages S382-S383]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                        TRIBUTE TO RICH ARENBERG

  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, as the Nation celebrates a new beginning by 
welcoming a new administration to town next week, my office will be 
saying goodbye to a longtime trusted adviser and friend. Today, I pay 
tribute to my legislative director, Rich Arenberg, who will retire from 
Congress after 34 years to take a teaching position at Brown 
  In the nearly 15 years that Rich has led the legislative team in my 
office, he has provided invaluable guidance on innumerable issues that 
have arisen. No doubt, he has a detailed record--likely in chart form--
of the legislative back-and-forth behind each bill, if not each vote, 
we have confronted together. And when Rich announced his retirement to 
the legislative staff last month, the number of long faces around the 
table spoke volumes about his skills.
  Rich has an encyclopedic knowledge of Senate history, procedure, and 
protocol. He has been a mentor to countless Hill staffers, as well as a 
thoughtful, reasonable, skilled adviser to the Members he has served. 
He is a gifted storyteller who enlightens and entertains my office with 
anecdotes of his decades on the Hill. And above all, he is an 
incredibly decent human being, devoted to his work, loyal to the people 
around him, with a passion for life.
  Rich takes a distinct interest not only in understanding the policy 
implications of the bills that came before the Senate but also in 
appreciating the subtleties of each vote the significance of procedural 
votes and the connotations of each Senator's stance. Rich revels in the 
obscure though sometimes critical anomaly: for example, he often 
tracked which Senators reversed their positions between or during 
  With his competence, focus, and passion, Rich has endeared himself to 
those who had the pleasure of working with or near him. Beyond his 
personal qualities, he has distinguished himself with a remarkable 
record of legislative contributions. Rich and I arrived in the Senate 
at the same time following the election of 1978. As a staffer for 
Senator Paul Tsongas, whom he had previously worked for in the House of 
Representatives, Rich was initiated in the Senate in a pursuit that 
also dominated my first year: securing loan guarantees for Chrysler 
that helped save the company and had an enormous positive impact on the 
vibrancy of our domestic auto industry. He contributed significantly to 
the Alaska Lands Act, enacted in 1980, which remains of the most 
significant pieces of environmental legislation of the last several 
  Beginning in 1984, he served as chief of staff to Senator George 
Mitchell. His work to investigate the Iran-Contra affair could fill a 
book--and, in fact, Rich helped Senator William Cohen and then-Majority 
Leader Mitchell write ``Men of Zeal,'' a book detailing the 1987 Iran-
Contra hearings in which Rich played a critical role. As a special 
assistant for national security affairs for Senator Mitchell in the 
early 1990s, Rich handled a variety of intelligence matters, and his 
work required extensive travel around the world.
  Since joining my staff in 1994, Rich has contributed to legislation 
protecting the Great Lakes, improving treatment for drug abuse, and 
preserving American jobs. Rich has been on the front lines of 
legislative efforts that have sometimes spanned years. He has been at 
my side at the crack of dawn each Wednesday morning for weekly radio 
interviews, at the ready to answer questions. His performance reflects 
a deep respect for the Senate and an understanding that the root of 
senatorial accomplishment is cooperation and collaboration.
  He has worked long hours with a zeal for legislative maneuvering 
matched only by his passion for the Red Sox and exceeded only by his 
love for his family. I was honored that he and his wonderful wife Linda 
chose my Capitol hideaway as the site to celebrate their wedding, a 
joyful day that included a spirited procession through the Senate 
building and Capitol subway. And when his Red Sox won the World Series 
or when his beloved cocker spaniel had a new litter of puppies or when 
his sons or daughter were in the midst of an adventure, there was a 
glint in his eye and a smile would break across his face.
  But there is no doubt that Rich's engaging stories, insightful 
observations, and flair for humor will be a treasure trove for the 
students who are fortunate enough to be in his classroom. They will 
learn the ins and outs of the Senate from the best. They'll learn about 
Rich's ``tilted deck'' theory, which predicts that the Senate will take 
until the eve of adjournment or weekend recess to act, and then, if it

[[Page S383]]

fails to do so, will inevitably take until the eve of the next deadline 
to try again. And I am willing to predict that after a semester with 
Rich, his students will know well that a gorilla in an idiom should 
always weigh 800 pounds and that they will pay close attention to the 
President's appraisal of the State of our Union.
  For one more glimpse of Rich's great accrued wisdom, look at his 
office. Inside Rich's office, he has posted a quote from Confucious. It 
reads: ``When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you 
do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it--this is 
  That is the brand of excellence that Rich brought to all his work in 
the Senate, and that approach is why he has been such a trusted and 
important adviser to me, as well as to other Senators. And when he does 
not know a thing, he figures it out. Rich, thank you for your work on 
behalf of the people of the State of Michigan, mastering their issues, 
applying your legislative skills to their benefit. Thank you for your 
service to the Nation in the Senate, advancing the spirit of thoughtful 
bipartisanship that makes this body work. Thank you helping me navigate 
the murky waters of Senate procedure and precedent for all these years. 
And thank you for your friendship and for being--day-in and day-out--
the kind of staff member that a Senator can be proud of.