[Congressional Record Volume 168, Number 189 (Tuesday, December 6, 2022)] [Senate] [Pages S6982-S6985] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] Tribute To Roy Blunt Mr. HAWLEY. Mr. President, if I could, just a brief word of thanks and commemoration for my friend, the senior Senator from Missouri, Roy Blunt. It has been an incredible privilege to get to serve with Senator Blunt these last 3\1/2\ years. In a sense, I don't know that I would be here in the U.S. Senate were it not for Senator Blunt. I think Senator Blunt was one of--maybe the first person to urge me to consider running for the U.S. Senate, and it has been a true privilege to get to serve alongside him. He and Abby have been so kind to me and Erin on a personal basis. They were with us throughout the campaign. He was through all of the ups and down, as anybody who has been through a campaign knows. Roy was there. They were there with us on the final days on the bus, with Charlie, as I recall, who, between my boys and Charlie--Charlie was the calming influence on my kid. So they were all the life of the party. But from that moment forward, Roy and Abby were such good friends and mentors to us. Roy gave me advice about what it is like to raise a family in politics--something that I was just starting out to do. He gave me advice on things large and small in the Senate: helping me understand how the floor worked, helping me choose my first committee assignments. I remember he made time to sit down and talk through that with me about this time, gosh, 4 years ago now. He has been there every time I have had a question, needed help, needed to understand something. It has been a privilege to get to work together with him on substantive issues that we both care about. I think of veterans in our home State. I think just recently he and I were able together to lead a resolution honoring Jared Schmitz, who is one of the marines who lost their lives at Abbey Gate just over a year ago. I saw Jared's father just a few weeks ago, and he remains grateful for what Senator Blunt did in our continuing efforts to honor him. Roy and I have worked together for years now to try to get our Nation's laws changed to make sure that the tragedy we saw at Table Rock Lake in our home State involving the failure of duck boats, recreational vehicles, in that State would not happen again. I appreciate Roy's efforts on that. Maybe this is one of the things we will get over the line here in the next couple of weeks. I want to close--I know there are others who want to speak--I want to close with two stories about Senator Blunt that I have always loved and that I think really give you insight into Roy Blunt the man. The first is his background, his heritage, being raised on a dairy farm. He mentioned this. I think about this every time I drive home to Ozark, MO, and I drive by the exit near where Senator Blunt's family farm was. Every time, I usually point out to my boys that this is where Senator Blunt is from. Senator Blunt grew up on a dairy farm. He was the first in his family to go to college, I think. Is that right? Senator, have I got that right? He was the first in his family to go to college, and then--this is one of the stories I love--he taught at the same school where his grandfather had been a custodial worker years before. There is something wonderfully Missourian and wonderfully American about that. One of my other favorite stories is about how Senator Blunt got into politics. I am told--now, he can say whether or not this is apocryphal, but I am told that his first job in politics was when a certain Missourian known as John Ashcroft, who once held the Senate seat I now occupy, ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1972. The story goes that Roy walked into his campaign office and said: I would like to work for you. John Ashcroft said: Well, how much gas do you have in your car? Roy said: Well, I have a full tank. John said: Good. You are hired. And Roy went to work. The thing about Roy Blunt, for anybody who has known him for any length of time and certainly for anybody who has served with him in this body, working on any project of any scale, is that Roy Blunt is a worker. He works day and night. When he says he is going to do something, he does it. When he commits to something, he sees it through. That certainly has been my happy experience with him. He leaves a great legacy of service and commitment and honor in the State of Missouri and here in the U.S. Senate. I want to say again, Roy, thank you for everything. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Stabenow). The Senator from Minnesota. Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Madam President, I want to thank Roy. We have been through a lot together, and I am so proud to call him a friend, as well as Abby. I have such fond memories of our work together. I have really fun memories of when we once went to Canada--remember that?--with all the Canadian interparliamentarian groups; the work we did on adoption when no one thought we could get anything done, and we stood up for a number of really important bills; and the work we did on travel and tourism to make sure our country could compete with other countries around the world when it came to foreign tourists. One of my favorite ones was when Senator Duckworth was pregnant and wanted to have permission to bring her baby on the floor just for the first year or 6 months when there were late-night votes and the like. I thought that was [[Page S6983]] going to be really easy, and I told her we could get it done. Then, every single month, I looked at her, and she was getting more and more pregnant, and I realized I wasn't accomplishing my job. Roy and I worked on that together. One of my fond memories of that is Senator Hatch being surrounded by media and being asked about it, and he said: Well, that is OK if we have 1 baby on the floor, but what if we have 10 babies on the floor? I said: We already have 10 babies on the floor. In any case, we were able to get that done. As Roy mentioned, on a more serious topic, the sexual harassment rules--we instituted training, but we also updated the rules, which is a very difficult issue. We were working with Senator McConnell and working with Senator Schumer, as well as the House, to get that done. Our work on protecting election officials--Roy, having been a previous election official, understood that. We had a bipartisan hearing with the secretaries of state from red States and blue States. That was a major moment for me. But probably the thing I most remember was on January 6 when we had started the morning with this beautiful celebration and the ceremony of this walk with the young women with the mahogany boxes. Everyone here knows exactly what I am talking about. The insurrection went on, and Roy showed so much leadership that entire day in working with his colleagues, because while the police were on the frontlines, as we recognized today, Roy was doing a lot of work in working out how the process was going to work once we got through there. You know, he was the guy who made that work late into the night. Then, in the end, at about 3:30 in the morning, it was Vice President Pence and Roy and myself and those three pairs of pages with the mahogany boxes, walking through the corridors, where we knew that throughout the Capitol there was broken glass and spray-painted columns, and Roy just kept doing his job. Afterwards, when we got to the House, we knew that democracy had prevailed. We came back to the Senate--remember this?--and the Sun was coming up. It is like 4 in the morning at this point, and we decided to go down to the Parliamentarian's offices, which were destroyed. One of the beloved members of our Parliamentarian's staff's family picture was on the floor. The whole thing was a mess. We stood there and committed that we were going to not just clean up the Capitol and improve the security but make this all better. That kind of drove my work in the last year. But what I most remember about that particular moment at 4 in the morning is that we walked out of that room, which was ransacked, and Roy looked at me, and he looked at me with that typical Roy understatement, and he said: Well, see you tomorrow morning. And I go: OK, Roy. That is Roy. He did what he said he would do. We did a report immediately on security in the Capitol--we got it done in 6 months-- with Senator Peters and Senator Portman about what had to be done. We made a bunch of changes. We hired a new chief, and we went on from there, because, for Roy, it is always, I will see you in the morning. And we know, Roy, that we are going to see you in the morning, that you are not going to be a stranger, that you will stay a friend to so many of us. Thank you for your incredible service to the people of your State, to this Senate, and to the United States of America. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi. Mr. WICKER. Madam President, just very briefly, I have served in three legislative bodies during my lifetime: the Mississippi State Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and then, since New Year's Eve of 2007, here in the United States Senate. I have never had a better friend in any legislative capacity than Roy Blunt. So this is a very profound moment for me and a very emotional moment for me. If there were ever anyone who was a born legislator, that person is Roy Blunt. He sprang to this Earth with the ability to understand a diverse group of individuals representing diverse parts of the country, both in the House and in the Senate, and to bring them together for a result. This country is so much better off because of the legislative skills and the legislative accomplishments of Roy Blunt. There are people who are well today who had been sick, and they are well because of the efforts of Roy Blunt. There are people alive today who would not have been had it not been for the legislative skill of Roy Blunt. This Republic will go on and this body will go on, of course, but there will be a void in this room, in this Chamber, in this Senate, because of the absence of Roy Blunt. I don't remember a finer mentor whom I have ever served with, and it is my great honor to count him as a close friend forever and to salute his service today. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine. Ms. COLLINS. Madam President, when Senator Roy Blunt announced that he would not seek reelection, he promised to finish strong. As has been the case throughout his public service, he has kept his word. Roy is not only an effective Senator and a persuasive advocate, but, as Senator Wicker just mentioned, he is also a good friend to so many of us. On the Appropriations Committee, we have worked together particularly closely when it has come to biomedical research aimed at preventing, treating, and curing Alzheimer's disease. The fiscal year 2022 funding bill included a historic $3.5 billion for Alzheimer's research, and that tremendous success would not have come about but for the leadership of Roy Blunt. It has been truly outstanding. He has extraordinary vision in understanding the need for biomedical research that produces the medical breakthroughs. The American people also saw Roy's effectiveness with the work he did with Senator Burr on Operation Warp Speed. That was responsible for the development of the COVID vaccines in record time. No one thought that the partnership between the Federal Government and the private sector would be able to produce a vaccine so quickly, but Roy swept away the bureaucratic obstacles, he provided the funding, and most of all, he provided the vision. As a result of Roy's work, we have a COVID vaccine that has saved the lives of so many people. Serving with Roy not only on the Appropriations Committee but also on the Intelligence Committee, I have seen firsthand the extraordinary number of contributions he has made to our country. He is an experienced and skillful legislator who has the vision to write policy that makes a real difference. Roy has mentioned the role that he has played as master of ceremonies for the inauguration of President Biden. At the time, he delivered brief remarks on the preamble to our Constitution, observing that it establishes the uniquely American principle that government derives its authority from ``we the people.'' Our ongoing mission to create a ``more perfect Union'' is a continuing project, Roy noted, adding that ``we are more than we have been and we are less than we hope to be.'' Roy, you have played a key role in advancing that mission, and it has been such an honor to serve with you. I wish you, Abby, Charlie, and the rest of your family all the best in the years to come. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama. Mr. SHELBY. Madam President, on Roy Blunt, I first met him when he was a whip in the House. We had some kind of conference going, and I thought: My gosh, he can count votes. He is the whip. He can count votes in the conference, too, and so forth. And then, when he came and started running for the Senate, I was one of many over here who wanted to help him get here. And when he came in, as has been said here, he went right into the leadership because he is a leader. Roy, you have got it in you. You are a natural. It is in your bones, so to speak. And you have brought a lot to this Senate. I have worked with you on just about everything, but especially on the Appropriations Committee, and you have been stellar. You have a great family. You have a great wife. You have a son who is the former Governor of the State of Missouri. We would miss you, [[Page S6984]] but I won't be one of the ``we's.'' I will be gone too. But at the same time, they will miss you here. But they will miss you reaching out to the other side to make things happen. Reaching out to show that America is first; the country is first--and reaching out just over the aisle and to others with natural friendship, which means a lot up here and something we need to do more of. But we wish you well. You will do well in your next life, whatever that is, and maybe we will see you again after January sometime. I would like to start by thanking my good friend from Missouri, Senator Roy Blunt, for his decades of dedicated service. We have served together in the Senate for 12 years, and together in Congress for 26 years. I remember when Senator Blunt was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1996 and later to the Senate in 2010. Roy is a fifth generation Missourian who grew up on a dairy farm. Before coming to Washington, he was a high school history teacher and later a county official for 12 years. In 1984, Roy was elected to be the first Republican secretary of state in more than 50 years in the State of Missouri. He then served as the president of his alma mater, Southwest Baptist University, which undoubtedly prepared him for his many years of prioritizing education funding as the lead Republican Senator on the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Senator Blunt has been a force in the Senate, sitting on the Appropriations Committee; the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; the Select Committee on Intelligence; and chairing the important Rules Committee. Notably, Senator Blunt was elected to the Senate leadership during his first year in the Senate. He is currently the chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, a vital arm within our Republican leadership. As I mentioned, he is the top Republican on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. In this position, we have worked together to; grow NIH funding, which has increased 51 percent in the past 7 years; prioritize medical research, and improve access to quality education. Senator Blunt has also been instrumental in protecting the Hyde amendment and other long-standing pro-life provisions in this bill. As the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, he planned and spoke during the 59th Presidential inauguration in 2021. This was an important moment for our Nation. While Senator Blunt's service in the Senate has been significant, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that he was also a powerful force in the House of Representatives, where he was elected seven times to represent Missouri's seventh district. In the House, Roy was elected the majority whip earlier in his career than any Member of Congress in eight decades. He also served as the acting House majority leader for a period of time. Senator Blunt has a reputation for being a statesman and a longstanding record of working in a bipartisan manner to get things done. His dedication to the betterment of our country has been invaluable. I want to thank Senator Blunt for his service, as well as his wife Abigail, along with his four children and six grandchildren. Annette and I have enjoyed their friendship over the years. I wish Senator Blunt the best in his next chapter. The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Gillibrand). The Senator from North Carolina. Mr. BURR. Madam President, I rise today to remind my colleagues of what we have often heard: In Washington, if you want a friend, get a dog. Roy Blunt destroys that because Roy has been a true friend. Our relationship goes back to the House, though. The Senator wasn't whip when I was there. Clearly, he came in, and the math got better. But Abby is a strong woman. She has put up with a lot, as have all of our spouses. And, Abby, I hope you have a wonderful chapter in what is in store for him next. I want to speak from the standpoint of chair of the Intelligence Committee, and the fact that I work with 14 extraordinary people who understand upfront that they are going to learn a lot, they are going to be faced with some tough decisions, and they are not going to be able to talk to their colleagues, their friends, their family about anything that goes on. There can be some rather difficult days to go through, as we have seen over the 18 years I have been in the Senate and--16, 14? MR. BLUNT. Twelve. Mr. BURR. And the 12 that Roy has been in. But I have got to say that I never questioned whether Roy was going to be prepared, whether he was going to attend, whether he was going to absorb what he heard, and, more importantly, whether he was going to make a prudent decision about what we do. I can say that he mirrors the other 13--Susan, you being one of them--and I think that what Roy brings to this representation from Missouri is not only a man of character but a true leader. I expected to hear in your farewell address the words of Harry Truman, and I am paraphrasing when I say this because I can't remember the direct quote, but he was referencing all the things we think about that we do. But Truman boiled it down to this: The only things that matter are what happens in this room, in the U.S. Senate. And as we all three of us think of our departures, I don't think Missouri yet understands the loss that they have got by not having Roy Blunt here. But I do understand this: There are 99 other Members of the Senate who understand what the Senate will lose with Roy Blunt's decision to retire. So for all the good that you have done, Roy, I wish you many years of success from this point forward. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan. Ms. STABENOW. Madam President, it is an honor to join with my colleagues to speak about someone that is a dear friend. And I have often said to the Senator: You are not really leaving; I am putting you in a closet and locking the door, and we are not letting you leave. But then I know that Abby and Charlie and your whole family would not appreciate that. We first met back in the 1980s, when Senator Blunt was the secretary of state in Missouri and I was a State legislator. It was the first year that the national Jaycees went from 10 outstanding young men to 10 outstanding young Americans, and I had the honor of being one of three women honored that year. But we met in Tulsa, OK, and Roy has often joked that we met in a hotel room, but then he quickly explains what that was to Abby. But we had the opportunity to be there together. And then it wasn't until the 1996 election. We were both elected to the U.S. House. We were standing on the steps of the U.S. House, outside, to take a picture of the freshman class, and 1996 it was, the end of the year. I turn around, and Roy Blunt is standing right next to me. And I said: I know you. We gathered together again and really struck up a friendship. Then we both were on the House Agriculture Committee, and the very first bill I think either of us ever introduced was this very exciting bill about wheat germ. So I often was asked what was the first bill I ever introduced, and it was a wheat disease bill. But Roy and I got it done and went on to really form a wonderful friendship ever since. I was very excited when he then joined us in the U.S. Senate. As many people know, in addition to our having led the bills on community health centers, we have partnered together on a new concept of community behavioral health clinics, actually, funding mental health and addiction services the same as physical health, and that started 10 years ago. We stood on the floor of the Senate when we first introduced the bill and talked about how President John F. Kennedy had actually signed--the last law he ever signed, the last act he ever [[Page S6985]] signed, in 1963, was an act to create community mental health centers. And the idea was to close, at that time, what they called asylums and give people community care; care close to home, families, support people; to be able to be in the community and be successful. Well, the hospitals got closed, but the rest of it never happened. So I am so honored to have partnered, and want to continue to partner, with Roy as he leaves here for other things, to move forward the rest of the story, which is effective community care for folks, not in a jail, not in an emergency department, but in the community, with their family, allowing them to be successful and work and living their lives because they are getting the care that they need. So I am very honored to have had the opportunity to work with Roy on that as well. Now, Senator Wicker was talking, and I thought he might have said something about the trip that we took together to Asia with Senator Blunt. Senator Blunt was wonderful at putting together bipartisan trips, and we had the opportunity to go to a number of places in Australia because part of everything else that he does is that he has been one of the leaders in an interparliamentary partnership with the United States of America and Australia. And I was pleased, I think last year, to see you receive a very significant honor here because of your work. But we had an opportunity to travel together with Abby and for all of us to be together and really show a bipartisan front to other world leaders. I will say as an aside that you never want to play cards with him because he is a very good card player, and I have often said that I think he counts cards because he is so good. On a serious note, I really am going to miss this gentleman from Missouri. I am proud to have him as a friend, as a partner, and someone who really exemplifies what it means to be a statesman, to be a public servant. And I just send you all my best and all my love for you and your family. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi. Mr. WICKER. I ask unanimous consent that Senator Collins, Senator Inhofe, and I be allowed to give our remarks before the next vote. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. Mr. WICKER. Madam President, as we see, this is that difficult time of the year when we pause and say goodbye, farewell, and Godspeed to departing Members of this body. Senator Collins and I are prepared to act as a team at this moment to wish the very best and pay tribute to two individuals, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma.