McConnell Honors Departing Senior Advisor Jennifer Kuskowski
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Jennifer Kuskowski:
“Nine years and a couple months ago, an impressive young woman interviewed for a position in my office over in the Russell building.
“She’d worked for her home state Senator out of college. At that point she was sharpening her chops on the House side.
“I knew five minutes into meeting Jennifer Kuskowski that we had found someone very special.
“And now that young staffer from a decade back is departing the Senate as a commanding policy expert and one of my most indispensable advisors.
“Jen began as my legislative assistant for healthcare. In less than two years, she earned a no-brainer promotion to be the legislative director for my whole personal office, a player-coach overseeing all policy areas.
“For a couple years, Jen briefly betrayed us and obtained committee experience with Chairman Hatch at Senate Finance. But we soon stole Jen back for my leadership office here in the Capitol.
“For more than three years, she’s been my crucial point person on some of the most complex issues we face, from healthcare to education to tech and telecom.
“She is the consummate professional. Reliable. Calm and clear under pressure. She knows her portfolio like the back of her hand.
“And Jen genuinely loves the legislative process. As her colleagues playfully remind her with some frequency, Jen is a policy nerd’s policy nerd.
“Don’t get me wrong; Jen’s not naïve. She has the realism and tenacity of a grizzled veteran. But even as a top staffer who works directly with Senators and coordinates across committees, Jen’s still got the same earnestness as the young woman I met a decade back.
“And I think I know why. I think Jen Kuskowski loves mastering thorny policy issues because she understands that policy impacts people.
“In between her first and second stints on the Hill, Jen served in the Peace Corps, working on health issues in Ecuador. That is hands-on experience you never forget. And towards the other bookend of her Senate service, Jen spent the coronavirus pandemic first as an expectant mother and then with a newborn. She knew what was at stake as she tracked the science and helped assemble the Senate’s historic, bipartisan response.
“Jen has honed expertise in issues that touch families’ lives very directly. And with that expertise, she has done unbelievable good.
“She was an early driving force to focus Congress on the opioid epidemic. She was alert to the plague of substance abuse years before everybody in Washington was discussing it.
“Jen was a central player in my effort to raise the minimum tobacco age to 21.
“She played a huge role in structuring the historic relief for hospitals and providers that kept health systems above water in the early weeks of the COVID crisis. She was a key quarterback as we crafted support for vaccines and therapeutics that got America back on offense.
“Across many years, across many issues, Jen Kuskowski’s expertise and professionalism have literally saved lives throughout Kentucky and across America. It’s not an exaggeration. It’s literally true.
“Families across the Commonwealth and across our nation that will never meet Jen have benefitted from the fact that she’s been one of the most reliable closers on Capitol Hill. When an issue lands in her court, it gets resolved. Period.
“Now, saying Jen cares about policy because she cares about people might sound like a sappy cliché. But everybody in the Senate can attest there is nothing remotely sappy or Hallmark-card about her.
“Jen’s sarcastic sense of humor is world class. She does not suffer fools. She pursues goals with bulldog determination and a competitive fire burning below the surface.
“But all this coexists with a deep kindness and care for others. It is really a special package.
“Jen has been the likeliest member of our team to seek out a colleague who’s having a hard day and offer a pep talk… and the likeliest person to aim a witty barb at a friend who’s feeling overconfident and needs to be taken down a peg.
“Any team would be lucky to have either somebody as diligent and professional as Jen, or somebody as compassionate, or someone as wickedly funny. It’s been our special blessing to have all three in one person.
“As you can see, Jen has rendered the Senate special and unique service. So I am happy to report the institution has repaid Jen in a special and unique way, as well.
“When we first met Jen, she was Jennifer Conklin. But she leaves the Senate partnered with her husband, Officer Andrew Kuskowski of the United States Capitol Police. They are the proud parents of little Zachary.
“And after a decade of late-night negotiations and weekend conference calls, our friend is excited to strike out and tackle new challenges.
“So, Jen — I am so grateful for your outstanding service. We know you’ll continue to be a force of nature wherever you go, and you’ll keep serving the common good, just in new ways.
“You’ve done your family proud. You’ve done me proud. And I hope you are proud. Your fine service has literally saved lives and changed our country for the better.”
Related Issues: Tributes