Mr. President, I rise today to recognize the service of a former colleague and our current Vice President, Joe Biden.
Joe was born in Pennsylvania but moved with his family to Delaware when he was 13. He left Delaware for brief stints at St. Helena School and Syracuse University Law School, but he has always returned to Delaware, including the daily trips he made home during his Senate career and the regular trips he makes home to this day.
Because of his devotion to Delaware, Joe quickly got his start in politics, first on the New Castle County Council and then in the United States Senate, where he became the fifth-youngest U.S. Senator in history in 1972. He also has the distinction of being Delaware’s longest-serving Senator.
I worked with Joe on many different issues during his time in the Senate and served on the Foreign Relations Committee when he was our Chairman. Joe is known as a foreign affairs expert, and he has many reasons to be proud of the work he’s done in that area. One of those things that we worked on together was the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief.
I remember being at the 2003 State of the Union speech when President Bush said, "We're going to put $15 billion into an AIDS effort." That shocked all of us who were there. It was a lot of money. But we worked together to develop a bill that passed the House and Senate unanimously.
Joe managed the floor when we reauthorized that program in 2008, and we worked with Senators Coburn, Burr and Lugar to develop that reauthorization. At the time, Joe suggested historians will regard PEPFAR as President Bush’s “single finest hour,” and I tend to agree. A few years ago I visited the Kasisi Orphanage in Zambia. We were told that before PEPFAR, they had to bury 18 kids a month that died of AIDS, but because of PEPFAR they got that down to one a month. I know Joe shares my pride in the difference that program is making.
We were all a little sad to see Joe move to the White House in 2009, when he became our 47th Vice President. Lucky for us, he has been able to keep his ties to the Senate in his role as President of this body, and I think he’s been one of our best partners in the Administration.
All of us were glad to be able to recognize Joe and his son, Beau Biden, by naming the cancer section of 21st Century Cures Act after Beau. I expect Joe will continue to be a voice for ending cancer, and I hope to work with him towards that cause.
Joe, Diana and I send our best to you, Jill and your family. You have served the people of Delaware and the people of the United States with distinction.