Majority Leader McConnell Thanks Speaker Paul Ryan
His tenure as Speaker has proved a perfect capstone to a remarkable career in Congress. Every step of the way, Paul’s shattered myths and stereotypes about what conservative leaders are like. Through his long list of accomplishments and his personal witness alike, he’s demonstrated that faith in American free enterprise and individual liberty are not quaint, outdated ideas, but essential and timeless principles.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding friend and colleague, Speaker Paul Ryan:
“From time to time, each of us has indulged in the jokes and finger-pointing that sustain a friendly rivalry between the House and Senate -- the founders’ metaphorical teacup and saucer. And make no mistake: I am thankful every day that so many former representatives see the light and come to join us in the upper chamber. But for the past three years, there is no one outside the Senate with whom I’ve partnered more closely than the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.
“As history will remember, the Speakership was far from the destination that the contented Ways & Means chairman had in mind when our friend John Boehner announced his retirement in 2015. But to the great fortune of the entire Republican Party -- Paul had demonstrated over his years in the House the very qualities his conference needed most.
“Everyone knew he had uncompromising integrity. Seemingly inexhaustible energy. The trust and admiration of his fellow members. And he had an aspirational message about what we stood for, as Republicans. He’s reminded our party, as clearly and forcefully as any leader of his generation, about all that our party can and should aspire to be. ‘Not pale pastels,’ in President Reagan’s timeless words, ‘but bold colors.’ His colleagues knew he had all these qualities -- and we knew it, here in the Senate.
“So while I was far from the most crucial member of the pressure campaign -- a draft effort that even roped in the Cardinal-Archbishop of New York -- I’ll admit I picked up the phone, too. I called Paul and told him exactly what he didn’t want to hear: He was the right man at the right moment. Conveniently, I was about to get on a plane to Iraq at the time, so Paul didn’t have much of an opportunity to push back. And over the past three years, I’ve had more opportunities than most to see the right man in action.
“We’ve met weekly to coordinate the efforts of our majorities and present a unified front on behalf of the American people. At times, the cohesion between our teams made it feel like we shared one large staff. So I have seen firsthand how much of what we’ve been able to accomplish this Congress has been due in huge part to Paul’s serious approach. To his principles and his pragmatism alike.
“He helped lead the way on last year’s comprehensive reform of our tax code, turning his decades-long personal mission into a brighter future for millions of American workers and job creators. He navigated tense funding negotiations with deep understanding of his members’ concerns and stood firm in support of America’s military, helping to deliver the largest year-on-year increase in defense funding in fifteen years. He stayed true to his heart, putting Catholic Social Teaching into practice and fighting for policies of all shapes and sizes to lift up the most vulnerable among us, from the working poor to victims of human trafficking.
“His tenure as Speaker has proved a perfect capstone to a remarkable career in Congress. Every step of the way, Paul’s shattered myths and stereotypes about what conservative leaders are like. Through his long list of accomplishments and his personal witness alike, he’s demonstrated that faith in American free enterprise and individual liberty are not quaint, outdated ideas, but essential and timeless principles.
“He’s helped prove that right-of-center values are not only the basis for protest movements, as some cynics had liked to suggest -- they are also the foundation for governing majorities. He’s shown that our party’s ideals and principles do not clash whatsoever with the moral priority that we should place on those at the margins of society; but rather, that those very ideas are often the best means to honor that commitment. Talk about a product of the Jack Kemp coaching tree. It’s safe to say the Speaker’s cherished mentor would be mighty proud.
“Paul’s time at the center-stage of our nation’s politics has inspired countless Americans, including a new generation of leaders. But speaking personally, more than any one of the accomplishments that I’ve been proud to work with Paul to help secure, I think I will most remember how he’s done the job. How energetically and happily the Speaker has poured himself into each and every task at hand.
“No matter if some said it couldn’t be done. No matter that he hadn’t sought the job in the first place. The happy warrior has been undeterred. For all this says about Paul Ryan the Speaker, it says even more about Paul Ryan the man. He’s got a big heart and a razor-sharp mind. It doesn’t take long to notice either. And he knows how to lead with both. He’s a man of profound faith and abiding patriotism. And even after twenty years in Washington, he remains a staunch optimist. Paul is quick to insist that America’s brightest days are yet to come and even quicker to back up the sentiment with action.
“So, working with Speaker Ryan has been among the great joys of my career in the Senate. The nation is so much better for his leadership -- and I am better for his friendship. I am so grateful to Paul for everything. I wish him, Janna, and their lovely family great happiness in whatever adventures lie ahead.”
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