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Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy delivers retirement announcement to Senate colleagues

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy announces his retirement at the Statehouse in Montpelier
Pat Bradley
/
WAMC
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy announces his retirement at the Statehouse in Montpelier on November 15, 2021

A day after Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy was at the Statehouse in Montpelier to announce his upcoming retirement, he stood on the floor of the Senate to tell his peers he will leave the chamber next year after serving there for nearly 50 years.

Eight-term Democrat Patrick Leahy is the Dean of the Senate and its Pro Tem. On Tuesday morning he formally opened the session then moved to the floor to address his fellow senators about his decision to retire.

“Eight times the voters of Vermont who are my neighbors, my friends, my family have had the great faith to send me to the United States Senate to represent them. I told the Vermonters that have humbled me since my first election to the Senate in 1974 that I’ll leave this seat at the conclusion of my term." Senator Leahy added, "It’s a decision I do not come to lightly, but one in which Marcelle and I find great peace.”

Leahy told his fellow Senators that right now he wants to celebrate accomplishments and said there will be time later to assess the challenges and disappointments he encountered during his service.

“For decades I’ve been privileged to fight for Vermont. From the small grown in Vermont ideas like the revitalization of our historic downtowns to farm to school programs, all of which started small and have become increasingly popular across the country. And to Vermont’s trailblazing approach to criminal justice reforms, to Vermonters’ outward view that our great Green Mountain State is open and welcome to anyone," said Leahy. "On all these issues, and so many more, it’s been an honor to represent the great state, what I believe the greatest state, of Vermont in the United States Senate.”

Senator Leahy expressed his thanks for the support he has received from Vermonters, his family and especially his steadfast partner and wife Marcelle.

“She was with me from the first moment of the first campaign and we made our decision together and decided it’s time to go back home. Now we both look forward to the hard work the coming year will bring with the same conviction that brought us to Washington in the first place and trying to guide our wonderful country toward the future. I thank my colleagues. I yield the floor.”

Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York called Leahy’s decision bittersweet and praised his accomplishments over the years.

“This chamber has had a long history of many a dedicated public servant but there’s only been one Patrick Leahy. For eight terms the gentlemen from Vermont has been a senator’s senator. One of only four in the history of the Senate to surpass 16,000 votes in service to his beloved home state. The Senate is better off because of you. Vermont is better off because of you. Our country is better off because of you.”

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky recalled years of working alongside the retiring Democrat.

“Senator Leahy has served Vermonters in the Senate for longer than anyone in the state’s history. Of course he’s also become an all-star Senate institution in his own right. So it’s hard to imagine the Senate without Pat and his lovely wife Marcelle. For now I just want to salute our colleague on the occasion of his announcement and add my congratulations on his remarkable career thus far.”

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