[Congressional Record Volume 160, Number 147 (Thursday, December 4, 2014)]
[House]
[Pages H8656-H8660]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




      EXPRESSING MY GRATITUDE TO SERVE MICHIGAN'S EIGHTH DISTRICT

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2013, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Rogers) is recognized 
for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
  Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I am honored to be here. I don't 
often come to the well of the House for 2 or 3 minutes, let alone 60 
minutes. But today is special, certainly for me, for my family, my 
extended family, and staff who are here today. This is my chance to 
really say thank you, and I had a heck of a good ride serving the 
people of the Eighth District back home, and some thank yous upfront to 
my wife, Kristi, who is here, who is both my best friend and the love 
of my life. Thank you for being here.
  Boy, this is going to be harder than maybe I imagined. To my family, 
Erin and John, thanks for weathering the storm for a Member of Congress 
who is more often gone at times when they should be home. As a matter 
of fact, I remember I knew I was getting in trouble when my daughter, 
who was going into the fifth grade, and because I would fly out to 
Washington from Michigan every week, I had scheduled Mondays as lunch 
day at her local school for years, and so I got the lecture going into 
her fifth grade year that I would have to stay within a zone of her 
when I came to lunch. I was no longer able to sit next to her at the 
lunchroom tables because that, after all, would be god-awful to have 
your father at lunch with you in the fifth grade. So I did get to sit 
across from her for about one more year. And going into sixth grade, by 
the way, that was pretty much done.
  To everybody who had the great privilege to walk these Halls, 
including the visitors and folks at home, I hope you still have that 
reverence for this building and for this institution for what it means 
not just to America but to the world. I know I did every single day 
that I walked these Halls. This morning when I came in I still got that 
little tingle about what it meant to be a Member of Congress in this 
great institution.
  I know I felt that with the members of my staff throughout the years. 
Every chief of staff, every legislative director, every staff director, 
and every other staff member that I have ever had, fellows and interns, 
stepped up to the plate and certainly I know helped me become a better 
Representative for the people of the Eighth District. And all the 
things that we were able to accomplish--all of them--happened because 
we had people who cared a little bit more about something bigger than 
themselves. They cared enough to sacrifice probably better careers with 
higher pay and shorter hours in the private sector. They chose to come 
to Washington, DC, or work in the district offices to plow through and 
represent really average Americans to a big Federal bureaucracy that 
sometimes seems so intimidating they had nowhere else to go. They were 
the friends on the other side of those phone calls.
  Many of these folks have graciously showed up today: Chris Cox, Matt 
Strawn, Andy Keiser, Andrew Hawkins, Allan Filip, Heather Strawn, Mike 
Ward, Diane Rinaldo, Kyle Kizzier--thanks, Kyle, for not killing me on 
the highway on the way to meet the Turkish newly elected prime 
minister, I appreciate that a lot--and Michael Allen and Darren Dick.
  I think of my first crew that was right in the district office 
fighting it out: Tony, Penni, Katie, and Stuart, all of those folks who 
were so committed, again, to getting it right on behalf of the people 
that they represented. To my campaign team--and by the way, there were 
so many more people, I could take the whole 60 minutes and thank them 
all--a campaign team who fought it all, beat every odd, and beat every 
pundit's prediction that I would never stand and walk these Halls as a 
Member of Congress: Terri Reid, Val Tillstrom, RJ Johnson, John Nevin, 
Katherine Van Tiem, Joe Rachinsky, Mike Gula.
  I want to thank someone who is special in all of that to me, somebody 
who has been with me 22 years, from the very high points to the very 
low points, Anne, I couldn't have done it without you. Thanks for being 
here today. Wow. I said I wasn't going to do this. I think of all the 
things that as a staff you were able to accomplish, from cancer care 
legislation to protect rural patients to medical devices for children, 
and biodefenses. We even figured out a way to make server farms more 
efficient without mandates. That was clever.

                              {time}  1515

  To all of the constituents that picked up the phone and found a 
friend at the other end, I think of the time that we all gathered up to 
help keep a soup kitchen operating through the holidays by getting 
private donors to step up for people they had never met or 
organizations they had never heard of to help those folks get fed 
through the church kitchen.
  I think about all of the time we huddled all the staff in because we 
had one of the great, successful, painful IRS issues where, after years 
of trying to get this thing straightened out and, certainly, the 
anxiety and problems that are faced when dealing with a bureaucracy 
like the IRS, we got to make that phone call.
  Not only did they not owe money, the IRS had made a significant 
mistake, and they were going to get a pretty sizable check back. There 
wasn't a dry eye in the room when they made that call as the staff 
together.
  From all of the folks that we helped with Social Security or the 
folks who got their medals that they earned, to see that room filled 
with individuals who teared up because it was the first time that they 
heard their loved one tell the story of how they earned those medals 
fighting for the defense of the United States of America--you know, it 
is pretty a fantastic thing that I got to be here, so the work that I 
did on the Intelligence Committee, I have to tell you, was some of the 
biggest and best privilege that I have had the opportunity to 
participate in.
  Someone asked me at the time: ``Why did you go from being an FBI 
agent to wanting to serve and go through the political process that we 
all do?'' I recall a story, as a fairly young agent, we were working a 
case, trying to locate a young girl who had gone missing from a Western 
State.
  She had come to Chicago. I was on the organized crime squad. We had a 
tip that would hopefully lead to this girl's return to her parents. 
They were very concerned. She was young at the time, 15 when she left 
home.
  The long story--the fast forward of that story is we were able to 
locate this particular young lady. She was operating in a house of ill-
repute that was run and really protected by the local police, run by 
Chicago organized crime.
  The proprietors of this particular establishment kept all of the 
ladies completely hooked on heroin. They would gather them up at the 
end of the night and take them to a building that they owned and lock 
them up, feed them heroin, and get them back the next day for their 
night's work.
  When we took this young lady out, she was probably 17 by the time we 
found, located, and started to disrupt these types of activities. I 
will never forget--we got her into the car. We had arranged counseling. 
There was a great agent, a senior agent who was always very valuable to 
me, a guy named Richard Davis.
  As she was coming out, she didn't have a coat, so he expropriated the 
money I had in my wallet when we had an opportunity to get her a coat, 
which we did. In the back of the car, she was immensely quiet. She 
didn't say a word. Again, our goal was to get her to some counseling 
and try to get her life back on track.

[[Page H8657]]

  Out of the blue--and it was very quiet in the car, and so it was very 
cutting when she talked. She turned her head, and in the only words she 
spoke, she said: ``Do you know why I didn't kill myself? Because I knew 
somebody cared enough to come find me.''
  That certainly made a profound impact on me both as a young FBI agent 
and the work that I was doing there, but also what I was trying to do 
here as a Member of Congress. To know that somebody is empowered to ask 
the hard questions, to go to the tough places, to kick and stir the pot 
when I believed and the people around me believed that it was important 
for the security and defense of the country, or saving those rural 
cancer patients from driving hours and hours, or making sure children 
had medical devices, or maybe we came up with a bill--and did--for the 
protection of biodefense in the United States.
  One of my greatest privileges was having the ability to stand with 
the men and women as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with 
these folks who served all over the world in the intelligence 
community, the defense community.
  I never forgot that story of that young lady and what it meant. I 
always pledged to myself that if I was ever in a position to be in 
authority to make that difference, maybe ask that other question, push 
or probe a little bit more or push a bill, that I would do that.
  I think together as staff, family and friends, we have accomplished 
that. Congratulations to you and all of the work that you have done as 
well.
  As I had that opportunity to stand around the world with some really 
brave and courageous individuals, both in our military and our 
intelligence community, I just have two people that I need to point out 
because I want them to know about the profound impact they had on me 
now as a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence and, 
certainly, their country and the work that I hope I took into as the 
role of chairman.
  To the rock star of the CIA, thank you for standing up for your 
country in the shadows, for your leadership, for doing, I think, the 
country's hardest work. You have never complained. You sought no 
recognition, but in those shadows, you stood up at the right time to 
push the right policy that I believe has fundamentally made America 
safe. They never get to know your name, but I know it, and I thank you.
  To Karzai's favorite, thanks for having the courage to take me where 
you weren't supposed to. Thanks for showing me up close and personal 
the very real challenges that the men and women of the CIA face in very 
dangerous places around the world.
  Those particular early-on visits and counseling sessions set the pace 
for my understanding of what my role could be, to not only be tough on 
the Agency when it needed it, but to be supportive when the men and 
women of the Agency needed it as well. For that, I just want to say 
thank you, and thank you, again, for having the courage to stand up at 
the right time.

  For any success I have had as chairman, I would be remiss if I didn't 
thank a good friend of mine, Dutch Ruppersberger. I know, in this town, 
saying you have a friend who is a Democrat as a Republican can get you 
thrown out. Oh, that's right, I'm leaving.
  Thanks, Dutch, for really sitting down and putting our differences 
aside and working through tough and difficult issues to make the 
intelligence community work and work for the United States. It should 
happen more around here. It should happen every day around here. 
Sometimes, it does, and it doesn't get noticed, but I want to thank you 
for that.
  We have had our donnybrooks. We have fought. There may even have been 
some finger-pointing-in-the-chest moments during our time together on 
the committee, but at the end of the day, we always came to the 
conclusion that we both mutually agreed was in the best interest of the 
United States of America and the security of not only our citizens here 
at home, but the well-being of the men and women who serve in harm's 
way. So, Dutch, thank you for that.
  In all of the travels that I have had the benefit to do and all of 
the things that I have just reminisced about--and, hopefully, that was 
the hardest part of my remarks today--something always struck me, that 
America is the light of the world, still, today. People still hold in 
reverence something special that happens here.
  It was reinforced to me when I was asked to go to the 60th 
anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. That was a few years ago. I 
thought: I'm not sure. Do I want to go to Belgium and go through all 
that?
  I wasn't quite sure, but they hustled me up. They said, ``Let's do 
this. We will represent America. This will be a great event.'' So I 
went to the Battle of the Bulge.
  We got tours of the battlefield, and all of that was wonderful, but 
the day of the parade--so the mayor of Bastogne, a town of 15,000 now, 
and it was a town of about 10,000 during the war. If you recall your 
history, that was the town where the 101st occupied that town 
surrounded by the Germans. It was difficult, tough fighting.
  The mayor of Bastogne brought back all of the soldiers who could 
still walk and march in the parade, and even those who wanted to make 
the trip, but couldn't, they had a vehicle for them. You wondered: How 
would they remember this 60 years later? How would they remember what 
service and sacrifice these young kids who were from all over the 
country who had never been away from their farms or their retail shops, 
never been out of their communities, traveled all that way to fight for 
something so much bigger than themselves?
  The town was packed. There must have been 100,000 people there. As 
the gentlemen marched during that parade, it was the proudest moment I 
can remember, as they tried to stand straight for those that could. 
They even carried the American flag. People were screaming and 
hollering and clapping. They held signs up that said, ``Thank you for 
saving my grandparents from a concentration camp.'' That was a powerful 
moment.
  That evening, people who were children of Bastogne during the 
surrounding of Bastogne by the Germans who came up to offer some words 
at the microphone to these folks who were getting a medal from the 
mayor, and think about it, these would have very young gals who had 
grown up, and they were telling stories about these big, giant men who 
would come down into the basement and offer them their coats and their 
scarves and what little bit of food they had left, some candy, 
blankets. They would take off their boots and give them their socks 
because they had none.
  Remember, these were the civilians who were trapped in this town 
during the ravages of war. They talked about the reverence of a country 
that would come that far away to stand with them at a time when they 
thought that their lives mattered very little in the gears of war.
  You think about the fact that about $15 billion in the United States 
has been spent to save a million lives in Africa through our AIDS 
program that started a few years ago under George Bush--1 million lives 
saved.
  Sixty percent of food aid that goes out, that goes to people who need 
food security, they can't eat, let alone have a program to take care of 
them, comes from the United States of America--the farms of the United 
States of America. The next highest contributor is less than half of 
that, and that is the EU, combined, for world hunger.
  The Marshall Plan right after World War II, many maligned, but we 
invested a certain amount of money, so we could provide stability 
across Europe. Back then, it was $12 billion, which was a tremendous 
amount of money, money we probably didn't have.
  Because of that--and we made the investment to keep soldiers there, 
not to occupy, we wanted nothing, we took nothing. We took no soil. We 
were invited to stay. It brought peace and stability across Europe in a 
way that we had never seen before. Think of the hundreds and hundreds 
and hundreds of small and large conflicts across Europe from the 12th 
century on, including the 19th century.
  We brought them peace and prosperity in a way that Europe never 
believed it could do on its own. We did it through commerce, stability, 
and a commitment to stay. At the end of the day, no other nation in the 
world could have done that. We pushed back at the ravages of a cold 
war.

[[Page H8658]]

  If you think about today, you see those events, and you come back to 
the United States, and you turn on the TV, and you listen to political 
dialogue today, you wouldn't think too awful much of the United States 
of America. You would think that we had become a country who didn't 
think that we provided much value in the world, we are going the wrong 
way, don't have much to offer, a nation in decline.
  In fact, I had the occasion to have a meeting with a Russian general 
officer some time back about missile defense and some other things. 
When the meeting was done--this was a very large general. He was maybe 
the largest human being I have ever had a meeting with.
  He put his arm around me. His hand hit my chest. It was about the 
size of a big dinner plate. He asked me to go into the library. He 
wanted to say something to me. As we were walking into the library, I 
thought: I have seen this movie, I don't think it works out all that 
well for me.
  When we got into the library, he said something that startled me--it 
shouldn't have, I suppose--but he said: ``It is great to finally see 
that America is admitting she is a nation in decline. We have been 
through it. We will give you all of the advice and counsel you can 
take.''

                              {time}  1530

  He didn't come to that conclusion on his own. America--maybe our 
political rhetoric, maybe our own actions, maybe our own sense of 
isolationism is the answer for us--helped him come to that conclusion.
  A few years after that, seeing the world the way it was--Putin owns 
20 percent of the country of Georgia, no intention of leaving; he 
annexed Crimea, certainly playing games in eastern Ukraine. The world 
notices when we stop believing in ourselves. I can't think of a better 
example of that to me in recent times. For all the debate about 
Afghanistan--should we or shouldn't we? Should we stay? Should we not? 
I have, certainly, my own definite positions on that.
  In 2001, the average age, the average life span of an Afghan citizen 
was 43 years--43 years. Last year, it was 64 years. Nine percent when 
we got there--9 percent--had access to any form of health care. Today, 
60 percent.
  We asked women to come out of the back of their homes and participate 
in society, because we knew as a country you cannot isolate half of 
your population and be great at anything; you can't even be good at 
anything. We asked them and said we will be here, because we knew that 
was a long-term investment for the state's stability and security of 
Afghanistan.
  When we got there, there were no girls in school, or almost no girls 
in school. Today, 9 million Afghan girls go to school 5 days a week. 
Thirty-seven percent of the labor force today are women in Afghanistan. 
It was about zero when we got there. One-quarter of their parliament is 
women.
  We have these discussions about how hard it is and how difficult it 
is and maybe we should change direction and, I don't know, maybe that 
we are not the America that we used to be. And now we talk about just 
pulling up stakes and going home because it is easier. What a stain on 
our national character if we walk away from the women we asked to come 
out and engage oppression and brutality and ignorance because we just 
didn't think that we believed enough in freedom, democracy, and 
stability the way we used to.
  I had a woman doctor I met there on the very first occasion I went 
who trained in America. She had been sentenced to the back of her house 
in Pakistan. She was an orthopedic surgeon. She had not been out of her 
house in 6 years. When the U.S. forces first got there and she heard 
the sounds of the guns, she said she took off her burka, she walked 
about 9 to 10 miles to the children's hospital and volunteered.
  I happened to meet her at the children's hospital, a pretty tough 
place. They didn't have clean sheets. They didn't have antiseptic the 
way they needed. Remember, this is really early in the process.
  I asked her if it bothered her to hear the sounds of the guns in the 
distance. I will never forget, because she grabbed my jacket that I was 
wearing and said: Last night, in this particular bed--and, by the way, 
there were two and three children per bed. They didn't have enough 
beds. And because they had chased all the nurses away, mothers would 
come in with their children and would have to stay in the hospital 
rooms. So think of small rooms, two and three children per bed, plus 
the mothers who provided some minimal care without the greatest of 
cleanliness conditions. You can imagine how tough this is.
  And she grabbed my lapel and said: Last night, in that bed, I had to 
amputate the arm and a leg of a 9-year-old boy. I didn't have the right 
medical devices. I didn't have the right antiseptic. But if it weren't 
for the United States, he would have no chance at all, and none of the 
children here would have a chance at all.
  So we have to ask ourselves: Are we going to let our politics become 
so small? We have let our politics become the thing that, if I can make 
you believe you hate someone else, I could get that someone else's 
vote.
  Is that the America we are going to give to the next generations of 
Americans? We are going to find the one thing that divides us, or even 
if it doesn't, we will make it up and let you believe it does. We are 
going to decide that if you are of this race or of this color, you 
can't be for that party or this idea. I can't think of anything more 
small and more petty than that.
  I think of the challenges of the world that lie before us, not only 
just here at home. We have some big problems here at home--$18 trillion 
in debt. Seventy percent of our budget now goes to entitlement 
programs, and it is growing. We have a Tax Code that is so convoluted, 
so ugly, so brutal American companies are leaving or, worse yet, they 
are not even starting. Social security is in financial trouble; 
Medicare, financial trouble.
  China is now pushing out, being very aggressive in the South China 
Sea. It has invested 13 percent per year since 1989, 13 percent into 
defense and modernization of its military. Russia, you saw what they 
are doing. ISIS, you have seen what they are doing. They are now 
holding land the size of Indiana.
  So many Americans don't want to be bothered with the world the way 
they see it. They think, if we just leave it alone and deal with some 
of the small and petty things that not only get debated here but get 
debated in State capitols and county conventions, that the world will 
be just all right, we will be fine. We will make our politics so 
entertaining it doesn't matter if we accomplish anything noteworthy. I 
worry about that.
  Are we going to be that generation that walks away from the notion of 
individual freedom and personal responsibility? Are we going to be that 
first generation that says, you know, we rejected the idea of a big 
government? Is a big government big enough to give you everything that 
you need? Is a government big enough to take everything that you have?
  This is really the only place in the world where you can start 
sweeping the floor, maybe not even speaking English, become the 
supervisor, go to school, learn a trade, become a manager, maybe own 
the place through your own hard work. You don't have to have a title. 
You don't have to know someone. You just have to be willing to try.
  Are we really going to be the first generation that says that all was 
just too hard? Our engagement in the world was just too hard? The 
Marshall Plan, sending our young men and women to fight for something 
bigger than themselves to push back Nazi Germany, fascism, or 
imperialism in the East, just too hard?
  There is a great story about a little town called North Platte, 
Nebraska, that when they had the opportunity--and remember, they were 
under government rationing, so they were rationing eggs and rubber and 
tires.
  By the way, we have been in conflict for 10 years and nobody has been 
rationed one thing. You still get your tires and your eggs and your 
cheese. You can get anything you want. No show has been interrupted.
  But in North Platte, Nebraska, during World War II, trains would go 
back and forth taking soldiers to the eastern conflict and to Europe. 
And that little town came together, farmers from that whole region, 
donated all the materials

[[Page H8659]]

that they had--eggs and cheese and flour and their time. They met every 
single troop train that came through North Platte, Nebraska. They, on 
their own, fed 6 million meals to young soldiers and marines and 
airmen, sailors whom they had never met. But they believed that was 
their contribution and something bigger than themselves to keep America 
who we were.
  By the way, there was no government program. Nobody told them to do 
it. As a matter of fact, government made it a little harder than it 
should have been for them to do it on their own.
  This is a funny place, America. You can start out without title, 
without privilege. You can be the House intelligence chairman because 
you care enough to get involved, work hard enough. You can start out as 
a traveler all over the world and do different things, become President 
of the United States, without title, without privilege. You can start 
an idea in a garage, work your heart out, be smarter than the guy next 
to you, become one of the richest men in the country, maybe the world. 
You can still start a chain. You can work two jobs. You can get an 
education if you want to get an education.
  If you turn on the TV today, would you know that we are still the 
last best hope in the world? I am not sure I would. I certainly see all 
the things that separate us, all the things that divide us, all the 
problems that we want to make--sometimes even though they are 
intimately personal and real--bigger than they are. When we do that, 
the world watches. The world is starting to believe that we don't 
believe.
  I had an occasion to meet an intelligence official from a foreign 
country whom I befriended. And, again, after one of those long kind of 
meetings that we had overseas, we were walking out to the car and he 
said: Congressman, do me a favor. Tell your countrymen don't give up on 
themselves. Who will help such a small country like us and take nothing 
for it--the Russians? The Chinese? It can only be you, the United 
States of America.
  We have so much to be thankful for in this country, but you wouldn't 
know it by listening to the quality of the debate, by the size of our 
ideas, by the confidence in our future.
  There is a study recently that Chinese citizens believe that 
corporations and business lead to success and are a part of the answer 
at an 84 percent rate. In the United States, it was 39 percent. We have 
a whole generation of Americans who just turned their back on the one 
driver that has led the one nation to take care of more people and do 
so much good and ask for nothing in return, because we spend far too 
much time talking about how bad we are and not how good we are or how 
good we can become.
  You think of the debates not only in this Chamber but the Chamber 
aft, where they talked about a country that was ripping itself apart in 
a Civil War. 500,000 Americans gave their lives, again, for something 
bigger than themselves. And do you know what? At the end of the day, we 
were better for it. We became a better country.
  Every time we reached one of those points in our history where we 
struggle, we get through it because we believe in something bigger than 
ourselves and we believe that tomorrow is going to be better than today 
and, yes, we believe that our best days are still head of us.
  I hope we don't decide that these problems are just too big to handle 
anymore. I don't care if it is our domestic problem at home or our call 
to stand up for that last beacon of human dignity and invest in our 
military, not because we fight, but because we want to avoid a fight. 
Sometimes by showing up, you can help your neighbor and your friend by 
just standing there.
  I have never met a diplomat yet that really likes the military 
engagement, and I have never met a diplomat yet that doesn't want the 
101st Airborne over one shoulder and the 7th Fleet over the other. It 
is always the quicker way to ``yes.''
  We have been given a gift. As we debate--and this Chamber will 
debate--in the months and years ahead, they will talk about what role 
we should play, about what big problems we should solve, about what 
encouragement we should provide to average Americans to stand up for 
both their right and their responsibility as citizens of the United 
States. Will we take it? Will we be the ones that click the light and 
let it go dark for that last shining city on the hill? I don't believe 
we will. I believe, as Winston Churchill noted, that America will 
always do the right thing after trying everything else.
  We are in that process of trying everything else. But when you have 
had the great privilege, like I have, to meet these people all over the 
world, the people that work here--and it may be Peggy who keeps this 
place running, or Doris and Pat who keep the cloakroom functioning, or 
Capitol Police, or our clerks, or the people who process things, or our 
staff who answer the phone calls--they still believe.
  You can go home and see people struggling to keep their businesses 
open. They still believe. You can look at the eyes of any fourth 
grader, fifth grader, or sixth grader--not necessarily a seventh grader 
because they think they have all the answers by that point--and know 
that they believe there is something special waiting for them. That 
something special they may not be able to quantify, but we all know it. 
It is the United States of America, the last greatest force for good.

                              {time}  1545

  I know it by visiting those men and women in the intelligence 
business who are working their hearts out and, by the way, deserve our 
full devotion of support for the very difficult work that they do, and 
the young men and women in our military, or the young folks in the 
following story.
  I had the great privilege to travel downrange. When I showed up, 
someone asked me if I would mind promoting one of the soldiers who 
happened to be there from a sergeant E-5 to a sergeant E-6. It was in a 
very remote place in the world. They had to culturally dress in the 
garb of the locals. They weren't in their uniforms.
  When I got there, the sergeant going through this decided that he 
wanted to be promoted in uniform. So we had to go to a small room that 
was tucked away. He put his uniform on. The windows were darkened out. 
There were a lot of folks and some small gear. Some of the folks were 
pretty big. We had one little 3\1/2\ by 5 flag. Two of the gentlemen 
were fighting to see who got to hold it behind him as I posted the 
orders for promotion. These were pretty big dudes. I wasn't going to 
get in the middle of that.
  They finally worked it out and decided that one would hold one corner 
and the other would hold the other corner. They would stand behind him. 
So I cracked the chem light to read the orders. There were probably 
eight of us jammed in this little room with gear, windows darkened, and 
we were doing everything in hushed tones. Somebody began to whisper 
``The Star Spangled Banner.'' I am pretty sure we were off key. I am 
pretty sure we even missed a verse. But I can tell you it was the most 
beautiful thing I have ever heard in my life.
  These fine Americans who had been away from their families for about 
15 months still believed in something bigger than themselves. They knew 
that their mission was as important as being home with their child at a 
baseball game, not because that is not where they wanted to be, but 
this is where their country needed them to be.
  They are still there. We ought to be there with them. We ought to 
find that opportunity to stand and, in hushed tones, show courage and 
commitment to the United States. We ought to snap this trend of small 
and petty politics and stand up for one of the greatest nations on the 
face of the Earth. We ought to have big ideas to solve big problems and 
not let the small ideas be choked out. Let us find the better part of 
our angels in us to do something pretty amazing and pretty incredible 
as we move forward.
  I believe in this Chamber and in this institution. I know it will 
happen. I know the people that I have had the privilege to serve with 
know it will happen. And I know that there are many ways for all of us 
to contribute. I certainly plan to be one of those. I hope you all 
decide that you will be one of those, too. Because I walk out that door 
in a few months no longer a Member of Congress, I will have an even 
more revered title in the world: citizen of the greatest Nation on the 
face of the Earth, the United States of America.

[[Page H8660]]

  God bless you.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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