Farewell Letter From U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga-14)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. GRAVES of Georgia. Madam Speaker, when I was young, my Dad always used to tell me that if I dreamed big and worked hard, I would achieve much. Dream Big, Work Hard, Achieve Much. I have carried that advice with me my entire life. Those words fueled my ability to go from the hall of a single-wide trailer to the halls of Congress.
I write that today as I reflect on what makes America so special: the ability to chart your own course and achieve any dream. My heart is filled with gratitude for our country and the enduring experiment of democracy that has allowed someone like me to end up in the U.S. House of Representatives for the past decade.
Serving as the Representative of Georgia's 9th and 14th districts has truly been the honor of my life. This privilege was made possible by the sacrifice and support of so many wonderful people. First and foremost, my parents ``Big Tom'' and Penny; my wife, Julie; my children, Josephine, John, and Janey. My family has supported me every step of the way on this path of public service. My wife and children bore a burden that often goes unrecognized in politics. There are many precious days of life that we spent apart. Knowing their sacrifice motivated me every day to do the very best I could. Now it's time to shift the focus to them, and support their journeys and dreams, just as they supported mine.
For my final words entered into the Congressional Record as a member of Congress, I want to share the most essential lesson learned over the past decade: the importance of relationship building. Tone, rhetoric and civility are crucial to opening doors to new and unexpected relationships with lawmakers from across the political spectrum. Often the best policies are the product of broad perspectives and creativity, with input from people who bring experience from different walks of life.
I can think of no better embodiment of that ideal than the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. Committee members hail from opposite sides of the country, with different professional backgrounds and life experiences. Regardless of our political and personal differences, our commitment to those we serve--our constituents--came first. The way our committee operated should serve as a model for this institution. Our bipartisan collaboration resulted in 97 recommendations to make the legislative branch work better. I hope that this work continues, because the American people deserve an institution that is as forward thinking and innovative as they are. Bipartisan relationships are at the heart of anything that can become law, and the American people are far better off when we connect over shared goals and work together to accomplish them.
Serving on the Select Committee is the perfect capstone to my career in public service. I am grateful to my partner, Chair Derek Kilmer of Washington, for his outstanding leadership. Nothing the committee produced would have been possible without Chair Kilmer's bipartisan approach and boundless passion for our work. I am also grateful to Leader Kevin McCarthy of California for appointing me Vice Chair of the committee. It was truly an honor to be chosen from the pool of talented members I serve alongside.
I am also filled with gratitude for my staff, who have delivered incredible service to my constituents and the country. These are people with a heart for public service, who truly care for our nation. I saw tremendous sacrifices made: long hours, late nights, the burden of stress and pressure that comes with the weight of the work, whether it was securing life-saving veterans benefits for one person or passing a policy that affects millions of Americans. My team carried themselves in such a way that it was clear they knew the honor and privilege of working for the U.S. House.
In my tenure, I had two chiefs of staff: Tim Baker and John Patrick Donnelly, They led our teams in Washington and Georgia, which included the following people:
My current staff, Bud Whitmire, Jason Murphy, Sam Mahler, Danielle Stewart, Ryan Diffley, Kristin Fillingim, Rachel Black, Max Berry, Diane Menorca, Tracey Bartley, Valerie Jones, Ashley Langston, Travis Loudermilk, Linda Liles and Jackie Mooney.
My former staff, Josh Finestone, Jason Lawrence, Bo Butler, Drew Ferguson, Garrett Hawkins, Shivani Vakharia, Rebecca Anderson, Morgan Joyce, Maggie Newton, Kate Bell, Ansley Rhyne, Alicia Stafford, Matt Hodge, Paige Davies and Ericka Pertierra.
Appropriations and Modernization Committee staff, John Martens, Jake Olson, Tim Monahan, Jenny Holmes, Dena Baron, Marybeth Nassif, Kelly Hitchcock, Ariana Sarar, Amy Catherine Murphy, Brad Allen, Allie Neill, Shalanda Young and Lisa Molyneux.
These are just some of the many extraordinary people who contributed to our work over the years.
Now, it is time for the next season in life. I will be forever grateful for the incredible privilege of serving my country and my community as a member of Congress.
May God bless every person in this institution, those serving now and those who serve in the years to come, with the wisdom, strength and compassion to advance this great and glorious cause we call the United States of America.
God bless America, and God bless Georgia. Go Dawgs.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT