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Farewell Remarks

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 18, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CONAWAY. Madam Speaker, before I get to the heart of what I came here to talk about, I would encourage the two gentleman who just spoke to sign the discharge petition on the bill that would do much of what he just talked about, and that is reopen the PPP program to those small businesses that would be eligible to participate in that. So if they would take that small step, then that may be able to alleviate some of the issues we are dealing with.

Madam Speaker, the first remarks that I gave in this Chamber were during the debate on a concurrent resolution to count the electoral college votes for President Bush and Vice President Cheney after the 2004 election. While I had been in the House Chamber before that January day in 2005, stepping up to the podium was an entirely different and nerve-racking experience.

The Capitol is quite a bit more familiar to me now because it has been 16 years that I have been able to serve. The tunnels are no longer a mysterious labyrinth. I have grown accustomed to long days packed full of hearings and briefings and meetings. My walking speed is certainly quicker than it used to be.

But it is with the same awe and wonderment that I felt on January 6, 2005, that I stand in this Chamber today to deliver my final floor speech as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

When Suzanne and I began this journey back in 2002, we had no idea that this is where it would wind up or how long it would last. All I knew was that I had a window of opportunity to serve my community, and I thought I could do a decent job.

There is a verse in the Bible, Luke 12:48 which says, ``to whom much is given, much shall be required.'' That verse has guided much of my decisionmaking. God has blessed me with a little bit of talent and an awful lot of life experiences that I thought qualified me to do this job.

There is often an easy path in life, but rarely is it the right path to walk. I have done my very best to use my Judeo-Christian principles to guide my life and my time in Congress. The work that I have been able to do has been extremely gratifying.

This institution is important, Madam Speaker. It is enshrined in our Constitution. The job that you and I do is important. You and I, however, are not particularly important outside that job.

We use the words ``thank you'' across a wide spectrum of emotions. We say thank you for opening the door, thank you for picking up something I dropped. The comments I am about to make are at the other end of that spectrum.

I could not have done what I have been able to do, and I certainly could not have succeeded as well as I have, without the steadfast, loving support from my wife, Suzanne Conaway. Suzanne has stood by my side at more events than I can imagine. She has listened to more town hall meetings and stump speeches than anyone should ever have to listen to. She has handwritten some 8,500 thank you notes over the last 18 years. And she has, of course, put up with the hectic schedule you and I get to live under. Her faithful support means more than I can put into words. Thank you, Suzanne.

The people of the 11th District of Texas are good and decent and kind, hardworking, honest Texans who have trusted me to do right by them for the past 16 years.

Madam Speaker, when you and I ask for someone to vote for us or when anybody asks someone to represent someone, we are basically asking them to trust us. Trust us to go do something on their behalf day in and day out. You and I will make hundreds and thousands of decisions that will never get any input from the folks back home. They simply trust you and I to do it right.

That trust is earned over a long period of time, and it will evaporate in a nanosecond if you or I screw up something in that regard.

Trust is held in high regard in west Texas, and I have been honored to have that trust from the folks in District 11 for 16 years.

No Member of Congress gets to do what I have been able to do by themselves. It simply doesn't happen. There are hundreds and hundreds of people across District 11 that have played a direct role in the successes I have had in Congress. I thank the folks in District 11.

I have also been blessed with the best staff any Member could ever ask for. My staff in the district is responsible for helping countless constituents navigate the Federal Government through their superb casework.

Madam Speaker, I can't tell you the number of times I have been confronted by a happy constituent, whose life is just a little less difficult based on something one of my constituents' service folks has done on their behalf. The great news is they think I did it. I didn't do it. My great team on the ground did it. They do all the hard work, and I get the credit. It is great being a Member of Congress.

My professional staff in D.C. contributes mightily across the entire spectrum, providing counsel on every topic imaginable. All of my committee staff over the years, including the House Ethics Committee-- which is a thankless job--the terrific job that the House Intelligence Committee staffers do to help me navigate the Russia investigation, and most notably, the outstanding folks at the House Agriculture Committee, who have done incredible work for me and production agriculture and rural America over the last 6 years, including, Madam Speaker, passing a farm bill the same calendar year that it was introduced.

Thank you to the best staff and the most loyal staff any Member ever had.

To my fellow Members of Congress and the new representatives-elect who all will take that new oath of office next January, remember that your word is your bond. It is irreplaceable.

Wisdom is not only knowing when you are not the smartest person in the room but bringing that person on to your team. That technique has worked extremely well for me. Be an honest broker, no matter who you are talking to.

And, Members, protect this institution. It is worth fighting for. It is enshrined in our Constitution. And never, ever do anything to bring discredit to this House.

Madam Speaker, our Nation faces some incredible challenges. We have heard a description of the pandemic and the wreck that it is causing across this country.

We face a debt crisis, a looming, pending debt crisis that will soon swamp this Nation if we don't begin to address those hard comments.

We face a great power competition with China and, to some extent, with Russia.

But I personally don't believe those are the most threatening and immediate threats that our Nation faces. Our Nation faces a moral decline and the inability to self-govern.

John Adams wrote that only a moral and religious people can, in fact, self-govern. This form of governance is unsuitable for anyone else.

There are things going on in this country that God cannot bless. We use the words ``God bless you'' and ``God bless this country'' often. We sing it in songs. We use it particularly casually, almost like the thank-yous I talked about earlier. But each time you hear those three words, ``God bless you,'' think about what we are asking God to bless, whether what is going on in this Nation is, in fact, blessable.

Since 1973, we have killed over 62 million young babies in this country. God can't bless a nation that long continues on that path.

There are lots of other things that are going on in this Nation that God simply cannot bless. At some point in time, He is going to say enough is enough, and He will put this USA through the same crucible that he put the nation of Israel through throughout the Old Testament when they walked the path that we are walking. I fear that is coming upon us.

There is a solution, though, to that issue. The solution lies in the promise that God has made us in 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, turn from their wicked ways, seek my face, and pray, I will hear them from Heaven. I will forgive their sins, and I will heal their land.

I will argue tonight that our Nation has never needed healing more than we do tonight except during the Civil War.

That is the promise that God has made. That is also the solution that God provides us if we claim it, if we claim it as an individual, if we claim it as communities, if we claim it as a Nation.

Let's be those people that will humble ourselves, turn from our wicked ways, seek God's face, and pray. He will hear us from Heaven. He will forgive our sins. And, Madam Speaker, He will heal our land.

My time in Congress has been the absolute highlight of my professional career. I will miss wandering these halls late at night. I will miss looking up from my desk and seeing the Dome. But most of all, I will miss the colleagues who have turned into friends and my staff, who has become family.

Madam Speaker, God bless each one of you, God bless Texas, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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