McConnell Honors Retiring Senator Pat Toomey

‘Pat has blended principle, pragmatism, and persuasion. He is always professional and respectful — to his colleagues, to nominees, everybody. He is unusually skilled at fighting the fight and unusually skilled at getting an outcome.’

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA):

“The Senate is often labeled the world’s greatest deliberative body. A place where generations of titanic statesmen have asked the deep questions about America.

“Questions like: How do we balance individual liberty with the common good? What role should we play on the world stage? And: How should tax depreciation affect a small restaurant owner who’s buying a new Fry-o-lator?

“Anyone around the Senate would recognize that last query as the work of our detail-oriented, hometown-focused, economics whiz, the junior Senator from Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey.

“Pat’s entire sterling career — from the private sector, to the House, to nonprofit activism, to the Senate — has revolved around the reality that economics is central to daily life. What seem like dry financial matters can determine whether whole societies rise or fall, and whether hardworking families struggle or succeed.

“For two terms in the Senate and almost two decades total in Congress, Pat’s commanding mastery of economic issues have had a massive impact on his state and country.

“Our friend takes particular pride, as he should, in his leading role in delivering the generational tax reform of 2017. Most people involved in that massive effort found it exhausting. I understand Pat considered it energizing. Our resident economist was in his element. And the work he helped lead created one of the best economic moments for working Americans in a generation, before the pandemic.

“Tax reform is far from the only fruit of Pat’s labors. From the JOBS Act of 2012, which put financial markets more within reach for everyday investors…To the CARES Act, where Pat helped steer our bedrock financial institutions through pandemic turmoil. We knew we were getting a principled firebrand when our friend joined the Senate, but we’ve also gotten a collegial consensus-builder.

“Whether it was Pat’s work on the 2011 ‘super-committee’ or his tenure at the top of the Banking Committee, Pat has blended principle, pragmatism, and persuasion. He is always professional and respectful — to his colleagues, to nominees, everybody. He is unusually skilled at fighting the fight and unusually skilled at getting an outcome.

“Pat’s life and career have brought him a long way, but you still see the seeds that were planted by his father — a Marine vet and utility worker. There wasn’t any legacy fast-track into the Ivy League. Thanks to a good upbringing, it was hard work and sheer brainpower that paved our friend’s path to a prep school merit scholarship, then to Harvard.

“Pat cut his professional teeth as a trader in New York and Hong Kong. A free-marketeer right from the start. But right as his Wall Street opportunities were taking off, Pat hit pause on his big-city rise and put his economic instincts to an even higher-stakes test: He headed back to Allentown to set up a family business from scratch.

“The small restaurant Pat and his brothers started was a proving ground for Pat’s deep convictions in the community-building, life-changing power of free enterprise and entrepreneurship. I understand Pat’s first venture into elected office, a local commission, was mostly just an effort to make sure bureaucrats didn’t meddle with the success of Rookie’s Restaurant and others like it.

“The rest, of course, is history. Pat Toomey became a formidable congressman; then a pivotal outside player; and finally a masterful and essential Senator.

“Pat’s led the charge for his fellow Pennsylvanians on one front after another. In one instance, he responded to tragedy close to home with a solution for the entire country. Heinous buck-passing on child abuse in public schools – known as “passing the trash” – had let an offender who abused a child in Pennsylvania proceed to strike again in West Virginia. With the help of the senior Senator from that state, Pat spearheaded legislation that compels states to crack down on this abhorrent practice.

“Another time, through sheer willpower, Pat literally became a life-saving legislative guardian angel for a young Pennsylvanian battling cystic fibrosis. Sarah Murnaghan was only 12 years old when outdated and tangled rules around lung transplants put her young life in serious peril. Pat rallied a coalition of members; they relentlessly lobbied the executive branch; a federal judge weighed in; and long story short, that young lady got her transplant and is still with us today.

“Pat’s creative problem-solving has known few bounds. The way I hear it, one time, our colleague literally leveraged the America’s Cup sailboat race as a way to get a specialized transport ship re-flagged so that Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry could keep moving useful byproducts to market.

“And in the midst of all this, Pat made sure his office’s casework for Pennsylvanians was just as superlative. His team’s incredibly tight turnaround for responding to constituents has earned Pat praise from unlikely corners. I understand that one time, former President Clinton went out of his way to inform our colleague that a friend of his in the Keystone State couldn’t believe how quick and substantive a reply he or she had gotten from Senator Toomey’s office.

“While many Capitol Hill offices struggle just to turn around the correspondence that comes in, I have it on good authority that Pat will literally go combing through local newspapers’ Letters to the Editor so that he can proactively initiate contact with Pennsylvanians who haven’t even sought him out.

“Even the most eager morning people on Pat’s staff have learned to expect the lights will already be on when they get to the office. Their boss, already primed with ideas and questions. ‘I think we could come at this a few different ways.’ Or, ‘Have you seen how German government bonds are trading today?’ But our colleague’s also known for his thoughtful, almost fatherly leadership style. Pat holds everyone to a high standard, especially himself. But if something goes amiss, there’s no quick temper, no harsh words. Just a facial expression that his team affectionately calls, ‘that ‘disappointed dad’ look.’ And no matter what happens, everyone’s invited to the annual pool party at Pat’s house.

“Talk about an interesting Senate creature, Madam President. A man with a brain formed on the trading floor… and a heart shaped by Lehigh Valley kitchen tables.

“Pat’s true loves are family and free enterprise. This combination has made him a formidable Senator. But it also showed us the writing on the wall: The Senate was never going to get to keep our friend forever.

“Pat is always very careful to refer to his Senate service as, ‘the greatest professional honor of my life.’ Note the caveat. Because everybody knows what Pat sees as the greatest honor overall.

“We’ve seen our friend fiercely guard every possible moment of family normalcy with Kris and their three kids. We’ve seen hours blocked off on Pat’s calendar on a weeknight under the label ‘Duncan’s Baseball Practice.’ We’ve heard about evening sprints to the train station in order to make it to a Christmas pageant — only to see our friend right back here the next morning.

“Like I said, Madam President: Family and free enterprise. The two great loves.

“I heard a classic Pat Toomey story where a young intern in his office was excitedly telling his friends about the prestigious ivory tower path that he was aspiring to. Apparently his boss the Senator chimed in with something to the effect of: ‘Yeah, that sounds great, but have you ever considered opening up a small business?’

“So while we’re going to miss Pat around these parts, none of us can claim surprise that family and free enterprise teamed up to steal him back. Since we’re talking about an all-star Senate dad, I’ll put it this way: Pat, your colleagues and I aren’t mad… we’re just disappointed.

“You have achieved so much. You’ve done just what you hoped to. Congratulations and thank you.”