WASHINGTON - Sen. Kelly Loeffler addressed the U.S. Senate for the last time in her appointed term on Tuesday. The Georgia Republican was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to fill the seat of Sen. Johnny Isakson, who retired at the end of 2019 until a special election could be held.
Loeffler was defeated in a runoff election in January by Democratic challenger Rev. Raphael Warnock. Warnock is expected to be sworn in as Georgia's new Senator on Wednesday following the Presidential Inauguration.
The outgoing senator addressed the floor of the Senate on Jan. 19, 2021.
The following is the transcript of Sen. Loeffler's farewell address to the Senate as provided by her office:
"Mr. President, it has been the honor of my lifetime to serve Georgia in the United States Senate.
"There has never been a day that I don’t walk the hallways of the Capitol when I’m not awestruck by the magnitude of this job, and this place, and my duty. And I want to thank my colleagues, especially those who welcomed me from the start, who worked with me – even across the aisle to get work done for our country in a consequential year.
"I want to thank the people of Georgia who showed me the very best of our great state. My goal as a senator was clear: to work every single day to make Georgians’ lives better and to make ours the very best state to live, work, worship, and raise a family. I never stopped working to meet that goal, and was energized and humbled every single day by the opportunity to serve.
"In between weeks spent in Washington, I crisscrossed our great state non-stop. From southeast coastal Georgia in Camden county, to northwest mountain Georgia in Catoosa county – time with Georgians are my fondest memories. One of my earliest visits was to Homerville, Georgia – population 2,400. I carried the people of Homerville with me every day as I approached my work.
"Having grown up working on our family farm, where the nearest small town had a population of 600, my calling to public service was in large part the result of my desire to be an outsized voice for those who did not have a voice in Washington.
"Meeting Georgians inspired me each day to bring results to every corner of our great state.
"In that spirit, I want to thank Governor Kemp for appointing me and entrusting me with the important work of being a voice for our state and a servant to our citizens. And I was proud to serve alongside my friend and colleague Senator David Perdue.
"I want to recognize Senator Johnny Isakson and Senator Saxby Chambliss for their shining example of what it meant to be a Senator, and most importantly, a public servant.
"I also want to recognize and thank my incredible husband, Jeff, whose love and support encouraged me…and thank my family for instilling values of faith, family and hard work. You all have my deepest love and gratitude.
"As importantly, I want to recognize my talented and hardworking staff…Together, our work here – and in Georgia – has made a tremendous difference to our state.
Let me tell you about just some of that work because in one significant year in the Senate, I am proud of all we accomplished together. We delivered more than $47 billion dollars in relief to Georgia during the pandemic to families, employers, farmers, hospitals, and schools. As a freshman Senator, I introduced and passed 6 pieces of legislation.
"We secured funding for rural hospitals, increased telehealth access, and expedited the delivery of medical device equipment.
"I championed and we passed legislation that increased funding to help homeless veterans get back on their feet.
"And I was proud to champion agriculture – our state’s leading industry – as well as our military and law enforcement, small businesses and school choice. I stood up for innocent life, the Second Amendment and all of our Constitutional rights.
"I was able to use my business experience to develop four wide-ranging plans to drive economic security, keep our nation safe, modernize our health care system and increase opportunity in minority communities.
"And in 2020 alone, our office helped over 5,200 Georgians with case work, including nearly 1,000 Georgia veterans and active-duty servicemen and women navigating their VA benefits and VA Medical Centers.
"I am incredibly proud of all we accomplished together for our state and our country. There is more work to do. I had hoped to pass my legislation— to bring back to the United States from China — the manufacturing of our critical medical supplies, including prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicine. And I want to wish my successor well in his work in serving Georgia.
"Now, most farewell speeches urge colleagues to put country before party, or to fix what is broken here in the Senate. My message is slightly different.
"In all of the events of recent weeks, I want to urge my colleagues to remember why we are here; who you serve; and to recall the greatness of the American experiment — and the fragile nature of our freedom.
"I spent 30 years in the private sector chasing the American Dream. I’ve worked on our family’s farm, I waitressed, and I lived paycheck to paycheck. I moved around the country and worked hard to overcome setbacks, and to build a respected career in business.
"I came to Georgia two decades ago as a job seeker and I became a job creator, helping to grow a small startup company into a Fortune 500 company.
"And, like many Georgians, part of that work is giving back in our communities and supporting others in achieving their dreams. I’ve done that in business, in philanthropy, in sports and now in public service.
"That’s the American Dream. It gives everyone — regardless of their background — the freedom to make the most of their life, chase their passions, build their family and career, and to thrive in the greatest country in the world.
"Protecting that dream for all Americans should be our common cause, regardless of political party.
"As I have served over the last year, it’s become clear that we need more outsiders. More businesspeople and fewer - with all due respect - fewer politicians.
"Americans have high expectations of us — they’re looking for leadership, they want results — and, right now — they want their lives back. They’re looking for us to restore America and to protect their dreams, not to take advantage of a crisis and expand the government.
"And they certainly don’t want their way of life overwhelmed by radical change and costly policies that will push them out of their job, limit their children’s educational opportunities, and threaten their right to worship and speak freely.
"At the same time, while those on the left feign a desire for unity, they say they cannot tolerate it without accountability. In essence, there can be no unity without conforming to their views.
"Disagree, and you will be cancelled — not just your social media account, but your job, your family, your educational opportunities— even your God-given rights. Only those who meet their ideological purity test can claim moral superiority and retain their voice.
"Over the last year, I experienced this firsthand, many times.
"Yes, I’ve been a proud champion of conservative values, but I always put Georgia first, ahead of politics.
"As the pandemic began to unfold, I worked around the clock to deliver relief across Georgia. Yet, the mainstream media – including my own hometown newspaper – flooded its pages – not with serious coverage of my relief efforts – but with completely false stories about stock trades fabricated by a left-wing blog.
"When this political attack was thoroughly debunked, that fact was largely omitted from subsequent media coverage to fit their narrative.
"The truth is, the mainstream media and Big Tech increasingly care only about advancing their own political ideology — and protecting only the speech that fits into those specific narratives.
"The double standards, disdain and contempt that elites in institutions of influence have for conservatives is increasingly being revealed. For the sake of our discourse, this cannot be allowed to continue.
"As a starting point, we must hold accountable those who limit our free speech for the loss of our civil discourse in our country.
"The American people are alarmed by the effort to censor conservative voices. We are witnessing a Constitutional crisis that threatens to erode the First Amendment and silence people across our country.
"As a Republican – a conservative American who still believes in the Constitution and the core principles on which our country was founded – I refused to be intimidated by the cancel culture, and its dangerous narratives. However, not every American feels free to speak up. Their voices are being lost.
"This is why this Senate is so important. For 230 years, the U.S. Senate has been the central venue for voicing dissenting views, and has celebrated deliberation of issues confronting our nation. You must be the voice for those who can’t use theirs. The time is now – the urgency weighs on our country.
"If we are serious about uniting, it must be out of respect for our diversity – not despite it. Diversity of belief is not monolithic.
"In 1964, a future President Ronald Reagan spoke to his fellow Americans, saying: ‘You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.’
"These sage words echo today. These words are timeless.
"To my colleagues in the Senate, I urge you to address the dire threats to our First Amendment rights in order to restore every Americans’ faith in our democracy and to help restore peace in our nation.
"It is the only way to ensure that America – the world’s ‘Shining City on the Hill’ – a Republic admired for centuries – can endure for future generations.
"I encourage each of you to uphold our uniquely American values – and preserve the American Dream. And I will continue champion our party’s values from whatever position I occupy. America depends on it. Americans are counting on us to be their voice.
"For a shy farm girl who was the first in her family to graduate from college, who could never have imagined that one day I would serve as the United States Senator from the great state of Georgia, thank you all — it has been my deepest honor.
"May God Bless you and may God Bless America.
"I yield the floor."
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