Vermont’s Jim Jeffords is in his final days as a U.S. Senator this week. Jeffords bade farewell to the Senate in a floor speech in September. He has served in the body for 18 years. But on December 6, the Senate’s environment committee suspended some bitter debate to say goodbye to its former chairman.
Full Text of Senator Jim Jeffords’ farewell speech:
Mr. Chairman: I’m going home. As my friend Robert Frost once said, Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.
My home is on the west side of Killington Peak in the small village of Shrewsbury, Vermont. The snow comes early there. I’ve filled the woodshed for the winter. My snowshoes hang on the hook in the shed. Hopefully Ill get out to see the birches covered in snow next week. I miss my home.
Before we part ways, Id like to recognize a few people.
Mr. Chairman, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with you. When we disagree it’s always been in good spirit, and our bond of friendship has carried us through these five years. You’ve been so kind to me in so many ways. Thank you. You have wonderful staff.
I have many friends on both sides of this dais. I wish you all well. This is one of the best committees in Congress. I hope the years ahead are productive.
I am happy to know that Vermont will continue to be represented on this wonderful committee. Senator-elect Sanders will easily fill the shoes of former Chairman Bob Stafford and me. All of Vermont is proud to have him in the Senate.
I’ve been blessed to have an excellent staff serving me through the years here on the Committee. I can’t list them all, but there are a few here today, and as I mention your name please stand up or wave your hand.
We already miss a few staff members who have moved on, including Alison Taylor, Geoff Brown, Erik Smulson and Malcolm Woolf.
We have Caroline Ahearn, David Sandretti, Nicole Smith, Amanda Fox, Rachel Winnik and Erik Thu, who have served me exceptionally well.
Carolyn Dupree, who came with me from the HELP Committee, has been so committed to EPW and to me, she’s one of the great ones.
Jo-Ellen Darcy, Catharine Ransom, Margaret Wetherald, Chris Miller, Michael Goo, Mary Francis Repko, JC Sandberg have all had legendary careers to date in the Senate, and I hope they continue. Cara Cookson, from Cabot, Vermont, has served her home state with great honor. And Diane Derby, another great Vermonter, has been an outstanding spokesperson and advisor to me for many years. She handled committee communications and my own press and was able to make this plain-spoken Senator sound august and intelligent. My hat’s off to you, Diane.
Bill Kurtz, my chief of staff, my friend, my golf companion, is simply one of the greatest people ever to serve me and the State of Vermont.
Finally, Id like to thank my old pal Ken Connolly. Since 1993 has been with me, and we’ve had some amazing times together. When Ken started with me those many years ago he was single, he didn’t have three children and he didn’t have gray hair. I think we can only blame the Senate for the graying hair. Ken helped me put together the greatest EPW staff of all time, and I thank him for that.
As for the topic at hand, global warming, I can only say that I am sorry that I was not able to do more to change the minds of the few skeptics that remain in our nation. The climate is warming, it is due to human activity, and only a change in human behavior will ensure that my grandson, Patton Henry Jeffords, will not suffer the consequences.
As I rise from this chair, I do so knowing that its future occupant is a strong and courageous leader. I salute you, Senator Boxer, for your tireless efforts to improve the lot of humankind. I will be watching from my quiet mountain retreat, and praying that under your leadership this committee will continue to be as great tomorrow as it has been in the past.
In parting, I would like to site one last Robert Frost refrain:
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.