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Mr. President, at the end of each session of the Congress, we, the Senate, take a moment to express our appreciation and acknowledge the efforts of those members who will be retiring in just a few weeks.  This year one of our colleagues who will be leaving the Congress to return home is Senator Barbara Boxer. 

Barbara will be leaving us after a career of over 30 years in the House and Senate.  During her service she has impressed all those with whom she has worked with the strength of her views, her courage and her determination to fight for those things in which she truly believes.  Regardless of the circumstances that drew her into each legislative battle, she has always held true to the principles that have guided her in her life.

For Barbara, her early career work as a stockbroker soon found her heading to California with her husband after he had completed his work in Law School.  She then got interested in politics and became a strong voice for the political views of the people who resided in the area they now called home.  Her constituents liked what they heard from Barbara – and the way she expressed her views on the issues and proposals she wanted to work on. 

Her style of speaking soon became her trademark in Congress.  She has a convincing way of presenting her case and that’s one reason why it was always good to be on her side.  She calls it speaking “extremely candid and straight from the shoulders, and not to be mealy-mouthed or waffle.”  Anyone who has had a chance to come to know her – or to tackle an issue either with her or opposed to her knows how accurate that description is.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to fly on some flights West with Barbara.  As we traveled along we had a chance to get to know each other and swap perspectives on our work in the Senate.  As we would talk about the latest from back home and from the nation’s capital it became very clear that there were some issues that we could discuss and work on with some thought about a compromise.  For each of us, however, there were other issues that were of such importance to our constituents it would have been hard for either of us to move too far from the path that we had been following from our early days in politics.

We both have a strong touch of the West in our hearts that we express every day in everything we do.  That is why I wasn’t surprised when she mentioned as she spoke about her retirement that she felt that it was time for her to return home – as she said so well – “to the state I love so much, California.”

Diana joins in sending our best wishes for your hard work and your dedication to the future of your home state.  You left your mark here in the Congress during your years of service and I think it is safe to say you won’t be forgotten.  Thanks again for your willingness to serve and work so hard for what you believe in.  You have helped to encourage and inspire the next generation of leaders from your state.  In that way and so many others – you have made a difference.