In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell struggled to hold back tears as he paid tribute to outgoing Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, his longtime friend and colleague.
According to a video clip Politico posted to Twitter, which can be viewed below, McConnell said that he leaned on Alexander’s “wisdom for many years” as well as “on his optimism, his can-do spirit, his ability to look on the bright side and then discern how some more hard work could make it brighter still.”
Choking up several times, McConnell repeatedly paused the emotional speech to recompose himself and said that he will miss the “regular dinners” he shared with his colleague of five decades.
On the verge of tears, McConnell recalled how “reassuring” it was “to be weighing a thorny question and see Lamar Alexander sitting across the table.”
McConnell then went on to praise Alexander for his accomplishments, saying that the Tennessee lawmaker is leaving the United States in better shape than he found it.
“I’m sorry that in a few more weeks… it will just be the rest of us left, but you’re leaving this body and those of us in it and the nation it exists to serve stronger and better because you were here.”
As The Week reported, Alexander received a standing ovation after bidding farewell to his colleagues. In his speech, he stressed the importance of bipartisanship and called on on all senators to reach across the aisle and work together, especially on issues related to education.
Democratic Party leaders also heaped praise on the retiring lawmaker. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described him as a friend and said that his legacy will have a tremendous impact for years to come. Sen. Diane Feinstein of California suggested the same and said that she always appreciated Alexander’s willingness to work with Democrats.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell whose relationship to retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee dates back to their time as twenty-somethings in Washington in the 1960s, grew emotional today as he paid tribute on the Senate floor to his friend of five decades pic.twitter.com/UKv4fiCZTz
— POLITICO (@politico) December 2, 2020
Alexander announced in 2018 that he would not run for reelection. As NPR reported at the time, the senator noted that he is grateful to his constituents and to the American people, but said that the time has come for someone else to have the “privilege” of representing his state.
As the publication noted, Alexander was chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and he worked with Democrats to stabilize the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the fate of the Senate remains uncertain. The two Georgia runoff elections, which will take place in January, will determine who controls the chamber.