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Issues of the Day

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 17, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SHIMKUS. Madam Speaker, as folks in the Chamber know, I have been taking some time to thank friends, family, and staff, for supporting me these 24 years as a Member of the House.

Today, before I go down the organizational chart and mention caseworkers, legislative assistants, legislative correspondents, staff assistants, schedulers, there are some outliers in my organization that I need to mention.

Mary Ellen, Mary Ellen Maxwell, and Maria Maxwell are all the same person. The Madonia family has strong roots in Springfield, Illinois, and in the Illinois Republican Party.

Mary Ellen was on the campaign staff with me in 1996. Upon our victory, she joined the congressional staff. She eventually moved away and then got married.

On returning to Illinois with Brad, she joined Team Shimkus as my campaign treasurer. Her family also grew, adding Zane and Lilly.

We continue to joke about how Governor Edgar pointed to her at an event one time and said: ``Oh, you are the one who is going to go jail.'' Well, not only has she not gone to jail, she is a stickler for the law, keeping us both out of trouble.

Dora Rohan has spent 29 years working with me, protecting me, and being my friend. She started out as my executive assistant when I became treasurer of Madison County. As the only countywide elected Republican, I needed a confidential employee whom I could trust. Dora fit the bill and also brought with her amazing secretarial skills, including shorthand.

Dora followed me to my congressional office and became a caseworker for the remainder of her professional career. Oh, the stories she could tell, and someday, I hope she will.

I also appreciated the times when we did travel together. These trips provided me a different perspective and insight to the goings on in my office, much to the chagrin of some of my other employees.

I have had two great legislative assistants who informally became part of my senior staff. Chris Sarley and Jordan Haverly rose to prominence on their ability to handle policy, negotiations, and the politics that arise from public policy.

They both were what we called shared staff. Because of my role as either chairman or ranking member of the Environment and Economy Subcommittee, they were my primary point person with the full committee. They also played key roles in negotiations with staff members of other offices, from Republican offices and Democrat offices.

Chris Sarley and I had a lot of legislative successes, and I could spend all my time on that. Another Illinois boy, but a Chicagolander, I was skeptical at first until I found out that he was a Sox fan, not a fan of that other team.

Chris' claim to fame is our success shepherding the Toxic Substance Control Act, commonly known as TSCA, through the legislative process and having it signed by President Obama. That piece of legislation took 5\1/2\ years.

This was the first rewrite of a major environmental law since it was passed in 1976. Praised by the chemical manufacturers and the environmental community, it is a perfect example of threading the needle to reform and update an old law.

Thank you, Chris.

Jordan is from Pennsylvania and is also in his second tour of duty with my office. He handles my subcommittee now. With Democrats in charge, we attempt to prevent overreach which is not scientifically supported and would hurt jobs in the economy. Many times doing nothing is better than doing something poorly.

Jordan has a gift for working with social media. He also has a great handle on who I am and how I would like to respond to most issues. He never lets me down.

Jordan, like my legislative director, seems to want to go down with the ship. That is loyalty, which I appreciate. He will be a great pick- up for any office.

Madam Speaker, as I have said numerous times, one is only as good as the people they have around them. These are some of the best, and I thank them.