Majority Leader McConnell Pays Tribute to Vice President Biden

‘I don’t always agree with him, but I do trust him implicitly. He doesn’t break his word. He doesn’t waste time telling me why I’m wrong. He gets down to brass tacks and keeps sight of the stakes.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks today on the Senate floor recognizing Vice President Joe Biden and his years of service in the U.S. Senate, as a Senator from Delaware and as the Vice President of the United States:

“It’s great to see the presiding officer back in the Senate.

“It’s good news for everyone when he’s in that chair.

“Good news for him, because the rest of us have to call him Mr. President.

“Good news for the rest of us, because he has to let someone else talk.

“The amazing thing is, the man we honor today wasn’t always a talker. He suffered from a debilitating stutter for most of his childhood. He was teased for it. But he was determined to overcome it. So he did. With hard work. With determination. With the support of his family. It’s classic Joe Biden. He’s never stopped talking since.

“He cites overcoming that stutter as one of the most important lessons in his life.

“It led him down a path few might have foreseen.

“Winning election to the county council…

“Securing an improbable victory for the U.S. Senate…

“Becoming our nation’s 47th Vice President…    

“The presiding officer would be the first to tell you that he’s been blessed in many ways. He’s also been tested, knocked down, pushed to the edge of what anyone could be expected to bear.

“But from the grip of unknowable despair came a new man — a better man: stronger and more compassionate, grateful for every moment, appreciative of what really matters.

“Here in the Senate, he heeded the advice of Mike Mansfield. ‘Your job here is to find the good things in your colleagues,’ Mansfield told him. ‘And, Joe, never attack another man’s motive, because you don’t know his motive.’

“Look for the good.

“Don’t attack motives.

“It’s the basis of a simple philosophy — and a powerful one.

“Vice President Biden says he views his competitors as competitors, not enemies, and he’s been able to cultivate many unlikely friendships across the aisle.

“With Jesse Helms. With Strom Thurmond. With me.

“Over the years, we’ve worked together on issues of mutual interest, like Burma and — regarding the vote we took just a few moments ago — 21st Century Cures and the Cancer Moonshot.

“We’ve also negotiated in good faith when the country needed bipartisan leadership. We got results that would not have been possible without a negotiating partner like Joe Biden. I don’t always agree with him, but I do trust him implicitly. He doesn’t break his word. He doesn’t waste time telling me why I’m wrong. He gets down to brass tacks and keeps sight of the stakes.

“There’s a reason ‘get Joe on the phone’ is shorthand for ‘time to get serious’ in my office.

“The vice president is a likeable guy too.

“He’s got a well-developed sense of humor. He doesn’t take himself too seriously either.

“When The Onion ran a mock photo of him washing a Trans-Am in the White House driveway, shirtless, Americans embraced it and so did he.

“’I think it’s hilarious,’ he said. ‘By the way, I have a Corvette — a ’67 Corvette — not a Trans-Am.’

“See what I mean?

“Joe Biden may exist in the popular imagination aboard an Amtrak, but this son of a used-car salesman will always be a muscle car guy at heart.

“And what a road he has traveled.

“From New Castle to the Naval Observatory, from Scranton to the Senate.

“His journey in this body began by the side of those who loved him.

“Hand on the Bible.

“Heart in a knot.

“Swearing the same oath he now administers to others.

“It’s a journey that ends now by the side of those who care about him still — those, like his wife Jill, who understand the full life he’s lived.

“Here’s a man who’s known great joy, who’s been read his last rites, who’s never lost himself along the way.

“’Champ,’ his father used to say, ‘the measure of a man is not how often he is knocked down, but how quickly he gets up.’

“That’s Joe Biden right there.



“Unable to stop talking.

“It’s my privilege to convey the Senate’s warm wishes to the vice president on this Delaware Day as the next steps of his long journey come into view. There are many here who feel this way in both parties.

“I’m reminded of something the presiding officer said when he addressed the University of Louisville several years ago. It was one of the McConnell Center’s most popular lectures ever. And, as I sat behind him, he offered his theory as to why that might be.

“’[I think you’re all here today because] you want to see whether or not a Republican and Democrat really like one another,’ he said.

“’Well,’ he continued, flashing a smile, ‘I’m here to tell you we do.’

“It was true then.

“It’s true today.

“So I hope the presiding officer won’t mind if I conclude with some words directed to the chair.

“You’ve been a real friend, you’ve been a trusted partner, and it’s been an honor to serve with you.

“We’re all going to miss you.


Related Issues: Tributes