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Coronavirus

Floor Speech

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

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Ms. McSALLY. Mr. President, I rise to give my final speech on the Senate floor, with a heart of gratitude. Serving and fighting for Arizona as a U.S. Senator has been the opportunity of a lifetime.

Many times in the last 2 years, I had to pinch myself that this middle-class veteran became one of only 1,984 Americans to serve in the U.S. Senate and only 677 to serve in both Chambers of Congress since our Nation was formed.

Like most Americans, on my life's journey, I have overcome adversity which could have crushed me but, by the grace of God, gave me a purpose to fight for others. When I was just 12 years old, my dad died unexpectedly of a heart attack. I learned at that early age to treat each day of this life as a gift. I was reminded of that lesson again this year when my 58-year-old brother Martin passed away. Though it wasn't from COVID, this type of deep grief--unexpectedly losing a family member--is one too many of us have faced in 2020. We have been reminded once again that every moment, every day, every chapter of our lives is truly a gift.

As it has been for most chapters of my life, I didn't come here in a traditional or easy way.

I want to first thank Governor Doug Ducey for the blessing to serve the great State of Arizona, especially during these times of unprecedented challenges.

Accepting the Governor's appointment to be a Member of the world's most prestigious and powerful governing body was, like most missions in my life, a high-risk, high-purpose endeavor. Becoming a U.S. Senator was the ultimate expression of one of my life's principles: Do things afraid. I took on the mission with my eyes wide open. I gave it my all, and I left it all on the field in my fight for the Grand Canyon State.

When I gave my maiden speech on this floor, I shared my approach to service, which was forged through 26 years in uniform: Honor your oath. Live up to your calling. Don't walk by a problem. To paraphrase renowned fighter pilot John Boyd, choose to ``do something'' instead of trying to ``be somebody.''

As I make the trip back home from DC to Arizona for the last time and close out this 9-year chapter of my life, I do so with gratitude, with joy, with no regrets, and with the pride of having represented the most optimistic, resilient, and gritty people on the face of the Earth.

While my name is on the door of our office here, this has always been a team effort. None of what we have achieved would have been possible without an exceptionally talented, selfless, and committed staff, many of whom are here today. I am so thankful for my team of professionals in DC and Arizona, who truly embody our core values of integrity, service, excellence, teamwork, and a ``make it happen'' mindset.

I especially want to thank those who have been with me for all 6 years of my time in the House and Senate: my chief of staff, Justin Roth, whom I trust completely as my closest wingman to lead our amazing team through thick and thin; my legislative director, Pace McMullan, who drives our legislative success and embodies the young, brilliant talent making a difference on the Hill; my deputy State director, C.J. Karamargin, who took a risk to join our team first in the House and built strong relationships across southern Arizona; and Rosa Ruiz, who has been a tireless case worker to help so many Arizonans left behind by Federal agencies. They welcomed our larger team in the Senate to serve the whole State.

Of that incredible group, I want to recognize my deputy chief of staff and State director, Tanya Wheeless, who brought a wealth of experience, maturity, and relationships to lead and mentor our Arizona team, and Alana Wilson, my director of scheduling--really, my director of everything--who has extraordinary capacity and maturity beyond her years, and I absolutely could not function without her on so many levels.

This institution could not operate and the people of all 50 States would not be served without the intelligent, hard-charging, often young men and women who choose to work on the Hill in staff positions. They don't do it for the pay, and they could make much more and work fewer hours in other fields, but they choose these behind-the-scenes, unglamorous jobs to be a part of keeping our constitutional Republic strong. I am so proud and thankful for Team McSally and the profound and lasting impact they have made for others.

Together as a team, we intervened on behalf of over 7,800 Arizonans who were getting the runaround from Federal bureaucracies in the last 2 years alone. We secured nearly $7 million of benefits they deserved.

To my fellow Arizonans, it was an honor to be your voice and fighter on your behalf.

We crafted a legislative agenda that fought for freedom, opportunity, and security for Americans and Arizonans--the very principles for which I and my fellow veterans put our lives on the line. We played a key role in creating a strong economy so everyone has the opportunity to realize the American dream; rebuilding our military; standing up to China; securing our border; and transforming the judiciary back to its constitutional role for generations to come. This includes the historic opportunity to confirm a pioneering Justice, Amy Coney Barrett, to the Supreme Court.

We worked together in this Chamber to quickly deliver relief during this first-in-a-century pandemic, saving lives, jobs, and small businesses. My thanks to President Trump, Vice President Pence, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and all of my colleagues who demonstrated leadership and commitment to these important missions.

We saved the mighty A-10 Warthog from being mothballed--again. I stood in the gap to ensure due process for a brilliant senior military leader to continue to serve our Nation, and I told the whole world in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that, as a fighter pilot, retired colonel, and U.S. Senator, I, too, am a survivor of sexual assault. My path of healing, of finding my voice and strength to not be held down or held back, was not easy, but I can truly say, like Joseph in the Old Testament: What others intended for evil, God used for good. I am grateful to God for giving me the courage to tell my story, and I am blessed to be a Senator, not only to lead on reforms that were signed into law but also to use my platform to be an example of hope and healing for others.

During my time serving in the Air Force, I developed a commonsense approach to solving problems that I took with me when I deployed here to DC. This approach, despite the division, obstruction, and dysfunction here in Congress, drove me to tirelessly seek common ground, to find pragmatic solutions that have made a real, tangible difference in people's lives. We know where we disagree--the lines are very bright--but I am proud to say my team always looked for where the Venn diagram overlapped to solve problems and get something accomplished, and it worked. We tied for the most bills signed into law in my first year in the Senate, and I am proud to say I will leave this body ranked as the sixth most bipartisan Senator--because I joined with many in this Chamber, on both sides of the aisle, to find common ground for the common good.

As one of the few combat veterans in the Senate, I was uniquely honored to fight for our military heroes, their families, and veterans. Too often, our men and women in uniform come home with the invisible wounds of war. The legislation that my team and I crafted and successfully got across the finish line gives them the lifesaving treatment they earned and deserve, allowing them to heal and reach their full, God-given potential. Those who sacrifice life and limb for this country--who bear the scars of battle, both seen and unseen, who ran toward the sound of the guns in godforsaken lands--are the heroes we can never forget and to whom we owe a profound debt. My deepest hope is that the work we did to fight for our veterans is a cornerstone of the legacy we leave here in the Senate.

Over these last few years, I have met so many inspiring Arizonans as I have traveled through all 15 counties and engaged with people from myriad backgrounds and experiences. It was an honor of a lifetime to meet four Navajo Code Talkers when attending National Navajo Code Talkers Day on the Navajo Nation; to visit with World War II vets like George Cross while participating in the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy; to connect with and encourage Arizona sailors patrolling the Straits of Hormuz during heightened tensions with Iran; to secure, then pin an overdue Purple Heart on Iraq war veteran Michael Letcher; and to tour the border with the Ladd family and other ranchers--hard-working, patriotic people whom I never would have met had I not served in Congress.

Over the last several, challenging months, I have been so inspired and proud to witness Arizonans stepping up to help each other get through this pandemic. Our small business owners and universities found innovative ways to make PPE for our frontline healthcare heroes. We delivered meals to doctors and nurses with church congregations and packed up food boxes with the National Guard at local food banks.

Even in the midst of such unprecedented challenges, I, like many other Arizonans, took in the beauty of our great landscapes by hiking sections of the Arizona trail. On a day-long trek to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back with a dear friend, we were joined for part of the hike by the park's new superintendent. We saw firsthand the benefits the Great American Outdoors Act would bring to this national treasure and crowning jewel of our State--legislation we championed in this very room.

I also went on ride-alongs with Border Patrol and local law enforcement to experience the challenges they face in keeping our communities safe and learn how to best support these heroes.

I will miss these life-changing opportunities, but I will always carry with me the time I had and lessons I learned from Arizona's amazing unsung heroes.

As we approach the end of a year that has tested our country, I look forward to spending time, as I do every year, in prayer, thought, and writing for the year ahead. Sometimes I feel the Lord presses a few words on my heart--words that are important to keep strong and guide my spirit for the next year. At the end of last year, three words stuck out during my time of reflection for 2020. I put these words on sticky notes on my bathroom mirror to serve as daily reminders: peace, joy, and gratitude.

In the most difficult year in modern history, I have known a peace that surpasses all understanding, a joy that can only come from a loving Creator, and a gratitude that even on the most difficult days, an almighty God put me on this Earth and in this Chamber to stand in the breach during this moment in our Nation's history.

Standing up for what is right during challenging times is the founding ethos of our great country.

Early in my time in the military, a mentor pointed me to the Book of Esther for guidance as I navigated whether to risk my career to stand up for what was right. I have carried the lesson of Esther 4:14 as my life's scripture ever since: Can it be that you were put in this position for such a time as this?

I was honored to serve with each of you in this Chamber for such a time as this. We experience this gift of life in seasons, and while this season is one filled with tumult and challenges, I know we will get through it as Americans always do--together.

When I was appointed to the Senate, I thought of this season in my life and decided, if this is the last 2 years of my life, I want to make it count for others. Today represents a change in seasons for me. I don't yet have clarity on what my next mission will be, but I do know who is the author and finisher of my faith and that He created each of us with a purpose. We live up to that purpose when we live, as John McCain exhorted to us, for causes greater than oneself.

This mentality was encapsulated by Teddy Roosevelt in a famous speech more than 100 years ago, one I trust we all know well. I came across his ``man in the arena'' passage when I was just a teenage cadet in the Air Force Academy, and it spoke to my purpose-driven spirit, so I cut it out and put it on my bulletin board. The same yellowed, torn paper is on my refrigerator today, more than 30 years later.

We can truly say in this short season that we were daring in all we did to advance worthy causes, and our place shall never be with those timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

It has been a true honor, Arizona. We are an extraordinary State with extraordinary people. I know our future is blessed and bright just like our State motto: ``God enriches.'' I have been enriched by the privilege to fight for you and serve you these past 6 years--2 here in the Senate.

I wish my successor, Mark Kelly, all the best as he represents our incredible State in this hallowed Chamber.

Let me close with the words of Apostle Paul, which I hope and pray will be said about my life in my final days whenever they come. He wrote: ``I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.''

May God continue to bless America and Arizona. May we all finish the race and keep the faith.

(Applause, Senators rising.)

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