Leader McConnell Speaks in Tribute to Secretary for the Majority Laura Dove

‘There is almost nobody in this institution with whom I have worked more closely, or whose counsel I have sought more frequently, over the past six and a half years than Laura Dove.’

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor paying tribute to trusted advisor and friend, Laura Dove, for her many years of Senate service:

‘Earlier this week I said that paying tribute to departing Senate staff is one of my favorite and least favorite things to do, simultaneously. 

‘So I’m especially unhappy to be back at it again today.

‘There is almost nobody in this institution with whom I have worked more closely, or whose counsel I have sought more frequently, over the past six and a half years than Laura Dove.

‘Few people understand how important the Secretaries for the Majority and the Minority are to this institution. These two officers supervise each side’s Cloakroom and floor staff. They’re like “air traffic controllers” who help Senators sequence the bills, amendments, and nominations we vote on. They keep every office apprised of what exactly has happened, is happening, and will happen on the floor.

‘They serve as in-house procedural experts to their side, advising the Leader and the chairmen. And they build close relationships with every member on their side, trying to ensure the floor schedule reflects everything from Senators’ policy priorities to their personal scheduling conflicts.

‘And while the two Secretaries are doing all this work in parallel, they also are constantly working together. On many daily questions of process and timing, their one-on-one relationship is the diplomatic front line between the two sides of the aisle.

‘The Senate is a consent-based institution. Almost every practicality is made much easier with bipartisan agreement — from scheduling major votes to packaging nominees to turning the lights on every morning. And it’s often Laura and her counterpart, Gary, who hammer out the details.

‘Considering the limitless scope of this job, it’s no wonder Laura has made a certain piece of human-resources phraseology into her personal mantra and her Cloakroom’s motto: “Other duties as assigned!”

‘The Secretary for the Majority is essential to the Senate. And so Laura has become essential to all of us.

‘There cannot be many father-daughter pairs in world history that have bonded over parliamentary procedure.

‘But the fact is, it doesn’t just seem like the Senate is Laura’s natural habitat. She literally grew up in this place.

‘Laura’s father, Bob Dove, started in the Parliamentarian’s office in the 1960s. He kept rising and in the 1980s and 1990s, he was the Parliamentarian.

‘Bob was known for a wry saying he’d repeat after tough days: “You may love the Senate, but the Senate may not love you back.” 

‘Unfortunately for his family, one of the Senate’s “love languages” turns out to be keeping people here late at night. Which meant that Dove family dinners, orchestrated by Laura’s mom, Linda, sometimes happened in corners of this building.

‘The exposure sparked Laura’s curiosity. Those family dinners turned into days off from school, spent wandering the halls and trying to imitate the duties of the pages.

‘Then she put on the page’s uniform herself.

‘And that is how this distinguished, decades-long Senate career began: delivering notes, filling water glasses, and studying for math tests in the attic dorms of the Library of Congress.

‘That was the mid-1980s. Laura debuted in the cloakroom right around the time I debuted as a freshman Senator. Neither of us knew what awaited us.

‘From the lowest rung to the top of the ladder, Laura threw herself into everything. At every step, no task was too insignificant but no challenge was too great.

‘Laura has had a hand in every accomplishment of this institution for nearly a decade. She’s played a significant role in literally every victory of this majority.

‘Her job performance alone would be stunningly impressive. But what is even more unfathomable is the level of kindness and good cheer that Laura has maintained while doing it.

‘She seems to begin every day with a smile on her face and a showtune on her lips.

‘She treats everyone with the same respect and simple kindness – from the pages whom she invites over for home-cooked holiday meals to the Senators whose family details she’s committed to memory.

‘She’s as happy tutoring junior staff in Senate basics as talking strategy with senior members. 

‘And no matter how late the floor was open the night before, the same Laura clocked in the next morning – full of joy, and maybe a new recipe to share with fellow Senate foodies.

‘Laura’s reminded us that the Senate’s strength comes from its people.

‘She’s embodied this in her professional conduct, fighting to preserve and protect this institution as she helped us navigate through it. And she’s embodied it in her personal character, too. She treats everyone with such warmth and respect as though this chamber were our shared second home.

‘And in some cases, it literally has been.

‘This staffer is so dedicated that she has rung in major milestone birthdays on these premises… stolen sleep on a couch during overnight sessions… you get the picture.

‘Few were shocked when Laura’s previous attempts to leave the Senate fizzled out after a year or so. I remember being relieved when I got another year. But I suspected she’d be back.

‘But this time is different. In recent months, I know Laura’s grown more and more excited to reallocate some time from her second home to her real home. To the family she’s built with her husband Dan, and their children, Abby and Jake.

‘Laura loves this body, its rules, its quirks, and its history more than almost anything. Almost anything. But she loves a family dinner with those three, a glass of chardonnay, and a game night by the fireplace even more. And as they prepare to send their oldest off to college soon, that time is becoming extra precious.

‘For us Senators, it’s hard to imagine what it will feel like to come to work next week without Laura here. I imagine she feels the same way.

‘But I know this: Those of us who remain will frequently ask ourselves, “What would Laura do?” And whether the issue at hand is institutional, or strategic, or culinary, we’ll know asking that question will point us in the right direction.

‘And I also know that Laura will be departing with some new wisdom of her own. She will know that, in a rare occurrence, her brilliant father actually got one thing wrong.

‘That funny old saying: “You may love the Senate, but the Senate won’t love you back”?

‘Well, his daughter will leave knowing that is only half true.

‘So, Laura: This institution cannot thank you enough. Nor can this majority. Nor can I.

‘But I feel certain you’ll never quite be a stranger to the Senate. I don’t think you could manage it even if you tried. So we won’t say goodbye. I’ll just conclude with one more piece of the Laura lingo you made famous:

Ciao for now.”

Related Issues: Tributes