BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — On the 203rd birthday of the state of Alabama, Sen. Richard Shelby gave his goodbye speech on the Senate floor Wednesday.
The senior senator bids farewell after more than three decades on the national stage.
Shelby served under eight U.S. presidents and got his start at the state level before being elected to the Senate, focusing his work on national security, infrastructure, training and education.
“I want to start off by thanking the people of Alabama, my home state, they put their trust in me for more than 50 years,” Shelby said. “In these positions of leadership, I’ve tried to influence legislation that will have a lasting impact.”
His 36-year tenure in the U.S. Senate will end when the 117th Congress finishes. He served on four committees during his time – most notably the appropriations committee according to CBS 42 Political Analyst Steve Flowers.
“If you’re a chairman of the United States Senate Appropriations Committee you’re probably more powerful than the president is because those who have the gold make the rules,” Flowers said.
According to Flowers, Shelby’s mark rests with his ability to work across the aisle.
“He didn’t go up there as a firebrand right-winged crazy,” Flowers said. “He wanted to get things done.”
This is something Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy has valued for decades.
“It’s always hard to say goodbye to friends, especially one as good as Sen. Shelby,” Leahy said. “Always keep your word. You will find that you will be the best senator if you learn to work across the aisle.”
This is an understanding Sen. Tommy Tuberville says has driven results for Alabama and beyond.
“There are a lot of personalities, big decisions and big egos here in Washington, D.C., but it takes commitment, humility and patriotism to make a difference in the lives of others,” Tuberville said.
Fifty-one years serving Alabamians is something Shelby said he holds dear to his heart.
“It’s been the honor of my lifetime – I yield the floor,” Shelby said.
Shelby concluded his speech by saying that political leaders have become too polarized. He said it is important to put America ahead of their individual parties. He will return home to Tuscaloosa for retirement.
Katie Britt will take over the office in January.