McConnell Honors Retiring Senator Ben Sasse
‘Senator Sasse is passionate about things that bear directly on the future of the American experiment. That’s the central passion that brought our colleague to this chamber. Now, as he departs to head a major American university, it’s the same passion that’s taking him away from it.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE):
“Normally, when a new Congress convenes on the third of January, the Senate has already said farewell to all of our departing colleagues.
“But this first week of the 118th Congress is also the last week we’ll get to enjoy the collegial and cerebral stylings of our friend the junior Senator from Nebraska, Ben Sasse.
“I spoke earlier this morning about Senator Mike Mansfield, whose path to politics began in the faculty lounge. So did Ben’s. But alas, the legislature’s claim on Senator Sasse has proven temporary, and now the ivory tower is striking back.
“A quick look at Ben’s resume leaves no mystery about the intellectual formation of our sharp colleague from the Cornhusker State: Valedictorian of Fremont High School, degrees from Harvard, St. John’s, and Yale. And high-flying stints as a sought-after consultant in business.
“But as I understand it, it wasn’t just brainpower that punched Ben’s ticket through the Ivy League. There was also a bit of blunt force. Let me explain:
“As the story goes, a childhood tumble out of a hay loft left our colleague with a big scar and some lasting numbness in his forehead. I’m not making this up. Naturally, as a budding competitive wrestler, our friend started to make a name for himself turning a would-be handicap into a signature move – the headbutt. Needless to say, college recruiters took notice.
“This hard-headed practicality has combined with Ben’s smarts and creativity to produce an interesting and impactful career. Like — using the wrestling mat as a springboard to a world-class humanities education. Applying the skills of a business consultant to turn around a small, struggling Christian university. Being one of the Senate’s most creative big-thinkers while also staying attuned to working families’ daily struggles. Or writing a new bestselling book every few years while spending his summers waist-deep in corn and soybean fields.
“I could be mistaken, but I believe there was one period where our colleague signed himself and his family’s minivan up for a ride-sharing app, so that he could pick his constituents’ brains as he shuttled them to their destinations.
“You know, Mr. President — boring, old business as usual.
“In one of Ben’s books, our colleague wrote about a practice that he and his wife, Melissa, have enjoyed incorporating into their family. He calls it their ‘family canon’ — a collection of good books on big, consequential topics that are meant to be read and discussed together, repeatedly.
“Well, while Corrie, Alex, and Breck are growing up with the Sasse family canon, Ben’s colleagues have spent the past eight years with the Sasse Senate canon.
“Eloquent arguments and new ideas on issues ranging from the future of work to the future of war to the dignity of the human person.
“Our colleague from Nebraska has been among this body’s leading voices on data privacy, intellectual property, automation, the economic threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party, religious liberty, and civics education. All in a day’s work, Mr. President.
“But behind the seemingly disparate interests, behind the fascinations with seemingly opposite things like new technology and ancient philosophy, I see a clear common thread: Senator Sasse is passionate about things that bear directly on the future of the American experiment.
“That’s the central passion that brought our colleague to this chamber. Now, as he departs to head a major American university, it’s the same passion that’s taking him away from it.
“When it comes to protecting and strengthening our country’s future, education is right up there with legislation.
“And anyway, I suspect many of us shared a hunch that, one way or another, this Renaissance man’s diverse resume was probably not completed when he was sworn into the Senate eight years ago.
“This next adventure for the Sasse clan promises not just more sunshine, but also more stability and family time, thanks to the end of the weekly cross-country commutes.
“So I think I speak for all 99 of the Senator’s colleagues when I offer both our condolences on replacing committee hearings with faculty meetings… and our congratulations on this exciting opportunity to lead an important institution.
“Ben — your colleagues wish you and Melissa all the best as you go write the next interesting chapters to the Sasse family canon together.”
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