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Mr. President, as this session of Congress draws to a close, it provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge and express our appreciation to those members of the Senate who will be retiring in just a few weeks.  One of those who will be retiring and will be greatly missed is Dan Coats of Indiana.

Dan has had an interesting career and through his more than 15 years in the Senate has made a difference.  He has been a reliable vote for the best interests of his home state and the future of the nation, and he leaves behind a legacy of which he should be very proud. 

Dan’s first years of service in the Congress began in 1981, when he served in the House of Representatives.  He was then appointed to the United States Senate when Dan Quayle was elected Vice President.  He served in the Senate from 1989 to 1999, when his self-imposed term limit pledge brought to an end his first years in the Senate.

It wasn’t long thereafter that Dan was again asked to serve, this time as our Ambassador to Germany.  He arrived in Germany and took up his service there just before our nation experienced the tragic events of September 11.  Our relationship with our allies took on prime importance after that, and we were fortunate to have Dan abroad to maintain our strong friendship with the German government and people.

Several years later, Indiana’s Senate seat was open again, and Dan took up the challenge to run again to serve the people of his home state in Congress.  The people of Indiana and our nation, conservatives and people of faith have been fortunate to have Dan to rely on.  He has been a steady and dependable force for taking better care of our nation’s finances and keeping a close watch on our security.

Last year, after a great deal of thought and consideration, Dan announced he would not be running for another term in the Senate.  It was a decision he made, once again, with the people of his home state in mind.  He has always been determined to have the best representatives in place to serve the people of Indiana and address those issues that most concern them.  With that in mind, Dan announced that he believed “the time has come to pass this demanding job to the next generation of leaders.”

We will miss Dan, his background and experience, his reasonable, appropriate, and well-timed comments, and his ability to get results.  I look forward to his next challenge or adventure, and know that he will continue to look out for the best for our nation and our people.  Dan has been a great source of strength and support for our Party, and he will be missed.

Dan, Diana joins in sending our best wishes and our appreciation to you and Marsha.  Together you have been great examples of the importance of public service.  The organization you founded, The Foundation for American Renewal, and the Project for American Renewal that you created have helped you to focus on and work toward solutions to many of our problems.  That is also a part of your legacy and why you will continue to receive the recognition you deserve.  You have also been a part of a number of community and volunteer organizations, and for these and so many more reasons we thank you and Marsha for devoting so much of your life to making our nation a better place to live.  You certainly achieved that goal, and we wish you both the best.

Mr. President, I also want to take some time today to speak about the senior Senator from Maryland, Barbara Mikulski.

In the years to come, Senator Mikulski will be known for a lot of things that made her years of service to the people of Maryland quite remarkable.  It will always be mentioned that she has been the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.  Although that is important, Senator Mikulski didn’t come to Washington to see how long she could stay.  She came here to see how much of a difference she could make.  In the end she served for so many years because of what she was able to do with her time in the House and the Senate.

The people of Maryland have such a strong affection for Senator Mikulski because they always felt like she was one of them.  She never lost touch with the people back home.

Her family name was well known to the people in her neighborhood because her parents ran a grocery store.  Every morning they opened their store early so people could stop by to pick something up before they headed off for work.  In that and so many other ways her family played an important role in the day to day life of their neighborhood and her neighbors never forgot that.

When the opportunity came for Senator Mikulski to run for a seat in the House representing Baltimore, she didn’t hesitate.  She took her case to the people and they liked what they heard.  She won what was to be the first of a long series of elections, each of which she won easily and impressively. 

Senator Mikulski has a number of interests, and one of the things I’m sure she’s enjoyed about Congress has been her ability to take up a number of those issues to make a difference in people’s lives.  In everything she has done, she always found a way to help the people back home.

The key example of that is her fight over “The Road.”  That battle dates back to 1966, when Barbara was a social worker in Baltimore.  The City Council proposed building a highway to connect downtown Baltimore to its suburbs – a plan that Barbara worried would cause Polish-Americans, African-Americans, and lower-income residents to lose their homes.  As is her way, Barbara sprung to action by forming a community group of opposition.  The road was blocked, Barbara wound up on the city council, and the area where the road was supposed to be built is now one of Baltimore’s biggest draws.

As far as her work in the Senate goes, one of her many legislative victories that I will long remember is the work she did on something that came to be known as Rosa’s Law.  Rosa was a nine year old young lady who was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Her mother was well aware of what a hurtful label terms like “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” were to those who saw them in the federal laws that were written to help them.  Barbara knew there was only one solution to this problem, and that was to eliminate the terms from federal law.

I was pleased to be able to help in the effort to pass that bill, seeing how much it meant not only to Rosa and her family but to their Senator, Barbara Mikulski.  Our work on that bill will stay with me and will be a reminder of the reason we work so hard to pass legislation and answer the needs of the people back home.  In the end, it’s all about making lives better – and that is something that Barbara has done every day of her service in the Congress.

As the longest serving woman in the Congress, she has continued to earn the title of the dean of Senate women.  She’s been a mentor and a source of good advice to her colleagues who appreciated being able to ask for her opinion and her guidance on their work in the Senate.   She certainly helped me when I was a new Senator and was advocating for low income housing in Jackson.  With her support, we got that done.

Her reputation has been to not only help the members of the Senate with whom she has served, it has also served to encourage other women in Maryland to get active and involved in the work that must be done to make her home state and our nation better places to live.  In a very real sense her leadership skills have inspired the next generation of Maryland’s leaders.

Now Senator Mikulski is leaving the Senate after having made a difference and leaving her mark in the history of the Congress.  I know we will miss her and her commitment to the principles and values that guided her throughout her career – from her service on the Baltimore City Council, to her work in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate.  She made a difference everywhere she served and for that reason and many, many more, she will never be forgotten.

Diana joins in sending our best wishes to Senator Mikulski for her years of service.  Now that her Senate adventure has come to an end, she will undoubtedly come up with more challenges to pursue in the years to come.  I’m hoping those plans might include a follow-up to her mystery novel that is set in the Senate.  We’re looking forward to seeing what the next chapter of her life may include.  Good luck!