tv Sen. Patrick J. Leahy D-VT Announces Retirement CSPAN November 16, 2021 4:32am-4:53am EST
it's special to both myself. not just because -- that i used to ride my tricycle up and down these halls. a long time ago. i don't know what rules i broke. having grown up right across the street, my sister, mary, my brother. my son and i decided to gather here back in 1974 when parents, our children, including son kevin who is here, my sister, mary, and i used the room to announce my candidacy for the united states senate. at that time i was a 33-year-old, fourth term states attorney and i wanted to launch
a campaign in vermont knowing vermont had never sent a democrat to the united states senate. never sent somebody my age. i felt i understood the knee need and values of vermont. i thought it was time for my generation to address them. one of the people i read in preparing for that was the dublin commentary inet mund burke speech to the electors of bristol. that serve as my north star. he said your representative owes you not an industry only but his judgment. then he said, a representative ought not to sacrifice to you his conscience. many described it as an improbable win, and i appreciate some of the people here in this room today who were with me on
that trip. but i came to the senate at a time of a constitutional crisis. we faced a nation broken by the watergate sam, the resignation of president nixon, and endless war in vietnam. within just a few months of taking office, as the newest and by far the most junior member of the senate armed services committee, we were asked to vote to re-authorize and continue the war in vietnam. at that time support in vermont for the war was strong. but i always aopposed it. i always opposed it. we voted five times. each time the vote to continue the war was defeated by one vote. i was proud to be that one vote. i hoped that vermonters would respect my judgment and can
sense -- conscience, even if they disagreed on my vote to end the war. i learned early in my career that good judgment and hard work are what vermonters expect from their representatives. the hard work part began as a member of the senate agriculture committee. where i became its chairman. we used it to bring several born in vermont ideas to capitol hill such as the promise of the future and poorest legacy program. these programs have conserved thousands of acres of working farmland and forestland in vermont and even throughout the country. that's why i began a program that's since brought tens of millions of dollars to aid in the cleanup of lake champlain. it's also the place where i was proud to add more than 140,000 acres to vermont's green mountain national forest.
one of the greatest treasures in our state. one of the things we could do around the state, my son and i spent time in the homes of some families who had farms in vermont, and after talking with them i was convinced we needed a law to set standards in organic farming. as chairman of the agriculture committee, committee that's able to pass the law that established the national organics standards and labor program that helped launch organic farm sector that is now a $55 billion a year industry. across this country. also a great avenue for vermont. i also look at the former chairman of the committee in agriculture and forestry. i brought back the word
nutrition. every named at the agriculture nutrition and forestry committee. i was pleased a republican and every democrat on the committee voted with me to do that. again by meeting with vermonters all over the state, i realized the need to have a law that allowed snap benefits to be used in farmers' markets to increase our student lunch programs, and give the means to create the farm-to-school program. today more than 30 million american receive nutritious school lunches across this country because of those programs. and we establish a national program to bring school lunches with food from the local farms. we also added competitive biddings for the proper but underfunded women, infants, and children nutrition programs. today because of those change more than seven million women,
infants, and children receive much needed food and formula. every time i saw home, we see these programs thriving in vermonters' everyday life. cleaner water, new markets for our farmers, providing nutritious food for those in need. i hope that will be a legacy in our state for generations to come. then on the judiciary committee, i served as chairman and ranking member for 20 years. my oath in that committee was to protect the constitution. i fiercely defended our civil liberties, the first amendment, our right to privacy, and the free flow of information. from the government to the people it represents. this has resulted in legislation, and includes the incense protection act, the justice for all act, and the
freedom of information reform act. all of which have made this a better country. it is in this capacity i was able to work to advance the first update to the violence against women act. if we re-authorize that we added protections for the lgbtq community. for native american women. and to fight the sexual trafficking of children serving on the judiciary committee also meant being there in times of crisis since the attack of 9/11. but we had to protect our nation from outside threats, but from a zealous administration that advocated some of the most serious throwbacks of basic civil liberties. so year after year i worked with it, pushed back on administrations, and the judiciary nominations. i always worked to keep the
federal judiciary independent. i did that for all americans. regardless of their political backgrounds. i recommended and worked to confirm some of the top judges in the land. the first woman to serve in the federal district court in vermont. and most recently i shepherded through the nomination of beth robinson's historic appointment to the second circuit court of appeals, becoming the first time vermont is represented on that court of appeals by a woman. i'm proud of it. i'm also proud of all the others, vermonters, i recommended to the bench and to many other appointments. then after a few more years i got assigned to the appropriations committee. appropriations committee may sound like a boring thing. a great big piles of legislation
with numbers and everything else. we would just figure how we help states and we'll do it in alphabetical order. starting with v. [laughter] >> in that capacity perhaps the most beneficial to help vermont, small state minimums i have written into so many laws. because of these, vermont has the tools and resources we needed for first responders after 9/11. and when tropical storm irene devastated so many of our communities. and to help those afflicted by the scourge of the opioid epidemic. in my advocacy, most recently $2.5 billion to help vermont of
the devastating impact of the covid-19 pandemic. it means funds for long overdue projects and investments that could be so transformative for our state. these accomplishments i believe came because of the first commitment i made to vermonters. commitment to bring vermont values to the challenge we face at home and around the world. with that in mind my son and i visited victims land mines in hospitals and rescue facilities all over the world. in war zones and place that is had been war zones. but we have seen -- what we have seen allowed me to write and pass the first law in the world banning the export of land mines. i'm proud other countries have sent me copies of all copying that in whatever their language was. i could read one part of it. where it said leahy.
it also led to the leahy war victims fund. to help innocent victims of the weapons long after wars ended. we traveled to vietnam to restore relations between our countries through assistance with land mine. with mitigation of agent or rack. orange. and the troops i led there, members of both parties, senators from both parties, have been backed by presidents of both parties. we have shown what positive steps can do. worked to re-establish relations with cuba. right now i'm working to undo the misguided policies of the last administration. and i'm especially proud the leahy law which requires us, requires us to withhold american aid to units of government in other parts of the world that have been involved in the violations of human rights.
it's long been regarded as most effective human rights tool and diplomatic asset. throughout it all i was fortunate to be supported by family and the most remarkable women and men who worked with me both in vermont and in washington. i'm uniquely blessed and served with fellow vermonters to share my deep love and commitment to vermont. senator stafford was my mentor when i came there. senator jim jeff fords, 12345r9 bernie sanders, congressman peter smith, and of course remarkable congressman peter welch. vermont continues to set an example for the rest of the nation to follow.
i'm proud to be vermont's longest serving senator because i know my time in the senate has made a difference for vermonters, and i hope often well beyond. i know i have been there for my state where i was needed most. i know i have taken our best ideas and helped them grow. i brought vermont's voice to the united states senate. and vermont's values around the world. so, yes, i'm proud to be vermont's longest serving senator. and while i'll continue to serve vermont, my -- i have reached the conclusion that it's time to put down the gavel. it is time to pass the torch to the next vermonter who will carry on this work by a great
state. it's time to come home. so i will forever carry with me an enduring bond with my fellow vermonters whose common sense and goodness watched their representative. thank you for being the inspiration and motivation for alt good that has come from my work in the senate. and rest assured our state and nation will remain resilient and the next generation will ensure our democracy remains whole. later this afternoon i will join president biden and other members of congress at the white house. the president will sign into law the largest investment in our nation's infrastructure since eisenhower administration. despite all odds he's done so with bipartisan support.
we'll take on the challenging and past reconciliation bills and appropriations bills. when i return to the senate, you are will tell the other members of the senate what a privilege it has been, being a senator in the history of our country. will i tell them how humbled i am by the support i received from my fellow vermonters. having been on the ballot on vermont 24 times. actually between states attorney and senate, 24 times, general leakses. how proud i was to see my name on that ballot. i will tell my fellow senators i will not be on the ballot next year. will i not run for re-election. i wanted to announce that here at home just a few yards from
where i grew up in montpelier. representing you and washington has been the greatest honor. i'm humbled and always will be by your support. i'm confident in what the future holds. and we'll pray for that future. thank you very much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy visit ncicap.org]