At the end of each session of Congress it is a tradition for the Senate to pause for a moment to acknowledge and express our appreciation for the service of each senator who will not be returning in the next Congress. With that in mind, I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude to U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
During the past six years, those of us who had a chance to come to know and work with Senator Heitkamp have been impressed with her dedication to the people of her home state, her involvement with tax issues, and her willingness to work with members on both sides of the aisle to find solutions to the problems and concerns of the people of North Dakota.
I share a connection with Senator Heitkamp, who is a senator from a smaller rural state. Because of this shared background, we have had the opportunity to work on various issues. But beyond our work together I have enjoyed knowing Senator Heitkamp. Heidi is a remarkable person. She is the first female senator elected from North Dakota and a survivor of breast cancer. She would feel comfortable in my home state of Wyoming, the Equality State, where we know what it’s like to have women trailblazers. She may be leaving us after this Congress, but she does so knowing that during her time she has made a significant difference in the lives of North Dakotans and in our country.
She joined the United States Senate in 2013 and has served in a Congress often divided by partisan views. She has been willing to work with President Trump and to work across the aisle on many issues, all for the good of the people of North Dakota. I have been one of those she has worked with and I’m happy to call her a friend.
The accomplishments that brought her to the Senate are substantial. Before serving in the United States Senate, Senator Heitkamp served as North Dakota’s tax commissioner and later attorney general.
I have had the privilege of working with Senator Heitkamp on many issues. Notably, we worked together on an issue that has long been important to Wyoming, forging parity between brick and mortar stores and e-commerce. During her time as tax commissioner, North Dakota sought to make an out-of-state mail order retailer, which had no physical presence in the state, collect and pay use taxes on sales into the state. After entering Congress, Heidi cosponsored my bill, the Marketplace Fairness Act, seeking to level the playing field for brick and mortar retail stores and out-of-state online sellers. Later we worked on amicus briefs with several of our colleagues and our efforts to create this level playing fields went all the way to the Supreme Court in the case South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court sided with our position! These efforts have been such an important part of my time in the Senate and I thank Senator Heitkamp for her work on this issue.
Heidi has consistently and tirelessly fought for the people of North Dakota. She has worked in the best interests of small businesses and contributed in a significant way to culture of the Senate and the nation as a whole.
If her past is any indication of her future, I think it is clear that she will be closing the door on this great chapter of her life and moving on to something new. Whatever that may prove to be I am certain it will make good use of her abilities, background, and experience.
My best wishes to Heidi, her husband Darwin, and their children as they enter the next chapter in their lives. I thank her for her willingness to serve the people of North Dakota and the people of the United States. There are countless ways of saying farewell, one of my favorites is-
Happy Trails. Until we meet again.