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Tribute to Lamar Alexander

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 2, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. President, it is such an honor to be here and to join my colleagues in paying tribute to Senator Alexander today. As you can see, there are many who want to speak and have a few words to say.

Now, I think all of us wish that we could do this to a background of music with Lamar playing the piano. That would definitely be the proper setting. But I am so pleased to stand and to honor the three terms of service that he has had here in this body and the way he has touched the lives not only of individuals in this body but millions of Tennesseans.

We know that he has--and he has talked about it in his remarks-- worked with educators; he has worked with innovators; he has worked with the healthcare community; and he has worked, yes, with entertainers, many of whom hold him so dear and who call Tennessee home. In fact, when I was serving in the House and representing Tennessee's 7th Congressional District, so many times I would look over here and I would think ``What is Lamar not working on today?'' because he always had such a broad portfolio of issues that were demanding his attention. And what we know is he accepted that work to address that broad portfolio of issues.

His commitment for caring for the needs of all Tennesseans has really manifested itself in what Tennesseans like to see as a lifelong legacy that has really changed lives. As Governor, he worked to streamline our State's government, was very successful in those efforts, and he brought that desire to streamline government with him when he came to the Senate. Indeed, this is work that has benefited all Tennesseans and all Americans.

As Governor of Tennessee, he was very successful in working to persuade Nissan automotive to come into our State. This started a new impact on our State with the auto industry. Then, as the auto industry needed suppliers, he turned his attention to infrastructure to make certain that the roads, the highways, the access that were necessary were there to encourage this business.

As the former Secretary of Education under President George H. W. Bush, he couldn't not put his personal touch on education policy, working tirelessly, as he said, to fix No Child Left Behind. This earned him the first-ever James Madison Award.

He has a reputation for, indeed, being a go-to lawmaker, and as chairman of HELP here in the Senate, he put a spotlight on the issues that affect the most sensitive aspects of Tennesseans' lives, again benefiting all Americans.

I like the fact that he talked about bipartisanship and productivity. Between 2015 and 2019, during his term of service at HELP, he has reported 45 bills out of his committee that have become law--45 bills. As he mentioned, one of those was 21st Century Cures. As a Member in the House and working on originating this bill, we had said: We are going to make this bipartisan. And, indeed, we did, and we moved it from the House to the Senate. And yes, indeed, there were some days we thought: This is never going to happen. But, indeed, Senator Alexander insisted, and, yes, it did happen.

He mentioned the Music Modernization Act, and I will tell you, this is vitally important to Tennesseans. As we worked this through the House and then it hit some bumps in the road, Senator Alexander and Senator Hatch did such a great job of pushing this forward here in the Senate.

Then, last September, the Nashville Songwriters Association International awarded him the White Hat Award, which is what they give to legislators who have made a significant impact on the entertainment and music community.

Well, the highlight reel would be too long to cover in one speech. There are many who are waiting to express their thanks.