McConnell Mourns Former Senator Mike Enzi
‘Mike Enzi departed the Senate having changed policy and law for the better because of his mind. And now he’s departed this life having changed his friends and colleagues for the better because of his heart.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the death of former Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY):
“The Senate is stunned and grieving this morning. Our dear friend and former colleague Senator Mike Enzi passed away last night following a serious bike accident this past weekend.
“Mike was 77 years old and only about seven months into retirement.
“Our friend was blessed with a great American life and he lived it well.
“Mike was hugely accomplished… but humble.
“He was powerful and influential… but earnest and deeply kind.
“He was ambitious… but on behalf of the people of Wyoming, not personal gain or glory.
“Mike’s quarter-century career in the U.S. Senate capped a storied career in public service.
“He was elected mayor of Gillette, Wyoming at just 30 years old. He was a young husband, running a family business, but he saw an opportunity to put his shoulder to help his neighbors.
“Well, to be more precise, our former colleague and Mike’s predecessor Alan Simpson gave him a not-so-subtle nudge. It was more like a conscription. Gillette needed help and this up-and-comer was exactly what the booming town needed. Diana agreed to let Mike throw his hat in the ring.
“And the rest is history. The Mayor’s Office eventually gave way to the Wyoming House, then the State Senate, and then this Senate.
“Here, Mike built a two-part reputation that might have struck people as contradictory.
“On one hand, Mike was a principled, hard-nosed conservative. He chaired the HELP Committee and the Budget Committee with a small-businessman’s painstaking financial eye. In fact, when he first unpacked his office, Mike was the Senate’s only trained accountant. He was central to getting generational tax reform off the starting blocks. He was a policy leader in our conference.
“But at the same time, this principled Westerner was also universally known as one of the kindest, most thoughtful, most respectful Senators on either side of the aisle.
“Mike’s famous ‘80-20 rule’ helped him find bipartisan common ground on a long list of significant issues. I know he was particularly proud of his focus on the global fight against AIDS. On the HELP Committee, Mike cut important deals with his counterpart and ideological opposite, Senator Ted Kennedy. Neither Senator walked away from his principles. They just both wanted to find where those principles fit together.
“Mike’s policy wins were many. But at the end of the day, Mike knew what everyone else around here knew: His greatest accomplishment was winning Diana’s hand and building their family together.
“Their marriage, their partnership, was a Senate institution unto itself. The Enzis’ kindness overflowed into legendary parties and generous gifts for the entire Senate community — especially the behind-the-scenes all-stars who do not get thanked enough.
“Mike Enzi departed the Senate having changed policy and law for the better because of his mind. And now he’s departed this life having changed his friends and colleagues for the better because of his heart.
“Today the entire Senate stands in solidarity with Diana at this tragic time which has come too soon.
“Our prayers are with her, their three children, and their grandchildren and entire family.”
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