Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 14, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HOEVEN. Madam President, I just wanted to add my congratulatory remarks and thanks to Senator Shelby, the senior Senator from Alabama. For me, he will always be the chairman. He has certainly been my mentor, and I think the Senator from Missouri and others would say the same thing. He has been our mentor on appropriations--in my case, for 12 years--and I would have to say, to me, it is amazing how well he understands the process--of course, he has been at it for a while--how well he understands the process, how well he works it.

The people he hires are so good. That is something we have to work with as chairmen of the subcommittees, is our staff administrators as well, and in working with Chairman Shelby, we are always going to get just absolutely the very, very best people. So it wasn't just his staff director for the full committee but the staff directors we had on the subcommittee. I think the Senator from Missouri would back me up on that. We were able to have such good people who really understood the process very well also, and that is incredibly important in appropriations because you have all these things that are authorized, and then we have to figure out what to fund and how to fund, and not only that but how to get those bills passed at the committee level and ultimately passed across the floor. Of course, everybody has a tremendous interest in what is in those appropriations bills. So it is not just the process he understood so well and worked so well but his understanding of people.

He wasn't the person who always talked, and he certainly wasn't always the person, when he talked, who talked the longest. But I have always believed that sometimes a person who can express a thought in the most cogent way--in other words, express a full, complete thought that is appropriate at the time and that actually makes the point in the fewest number of words--actually shows the keenest intellect. Try it sometime. Try saying as much as you can in terms of something important and making a point in the fewest possible words. It truly does take a keen mind.

The chairman not only had a keen mind for the policy in what needed to be done but in also working with people. I think, maybe, that that is something I appreciate even more. It is that, when you worked with Chairman Shelby, he took the time to understand what was important to you. Then, to the best of his ability, he would try to help you accomplish that.

Now, if you kind of thought, Well, that is pretty good. I think I will go back and try to get a few more things, sometimes he would have to remind you that you have got to prioritize. He might remind you with, boy, you are kind of pushing for a lot there. In that respect, it gave you perspective. That is important too. That is important too.

Yet, for the things that really mattered and for the things that you needed to get done, he really took the time to work and make it happen. That might not have happened in one cycle. That might have been something that he would have recognized as being, OK. I get it. This is important to you, and we, maybe, can't chop that tree down with one swing at the ax, but do you know what? We will keep working on this. I will work with you on it. I will mentor you on it, and we will get that done.

He gave you the confidence that it actually would happen because you knew he was going to stick there with you. I guess, in return, you know, you had to try to make sure you were doing your part.

In that respect, that would be the one other part I would mention. He also understood there were times that you could accomplish and do what he wanted you to do and vote with him and that you probably should, but then he also recognized there were times when you couldn't, and he accepted that. I think that takes an awful lot, too, because there are a lot of type A personalities around here, and it can get a little demanding once in a while.

I think he understood both the leadership and the idea of, OK, let's get something done, but then also sometimes understanding that you had to make a decision that might not be exactly what he wanted in that situation and accept it.

I guess the final point I would make is--I really like sports. I have always enjoyed sports. Now that I am an old guy, all I get to do is watch them anymore, but Senator-Chairman Shelby likes sports too. Anyone who knows him pretty well knows that he is somewhat partial to the Tide. He is kind of an Alabama fan. Now, that might be because he played football for Alabama. I don't know how many know it, but back in the day of Bart Starr, who, obviously, was an incredible football hero for the Green Bay Packers, I remember, as a kid, watching him win the first two Super Bowls with the Green Bay Packers against the Chiefs and the Raiders. So, when I got here and found out that Chairman Shelby had been a tight end on the Alabama team where Bart Starr was the quarterback, I thought, Wow, that is pretty cool. As a result of that, I think I always looked to talk to him about sports. I would talk about the North Dakota State Bison football team. Not surprisingly, he would talk about his beloved Alabama football team.

I have to say, you know, probably most people when they watch the Tide play--and that seems to be pretty frequently--you know, for a national championship or in important games, they think of Bear Bryant, Coach Bryant--the coach--and how he kind of got the whole Alabama football dynasty going. That is another thing that is interesting; that Chairman Shelby knew Bear Bryant and worked with some of Bear Bryant's other really great players, like Joe Namath and a few others.

So I loved hearing those stories. I have to tell you that, not only now but for as long as I am around, I will always take an abiding interest in watching the Alabama football team play.

Most people probably think, you know, when they think about icons and are watching the Alabama football game and go, ``Oh, yes, that Bear Bryant, didn't he start something amazing? Isn't that an amazing dynasty?''--oh, I have got to do one quick story, and that is we like to kid the chairman.

One year, Alabama had a particularly good football team, and a story we were kind of teasing him about was, Hey, did you see the new football rankings that came out for college football?

You know, we would say: Well, who was No. 1?

He would say: Well, Alabama, of course.

They would say: Well, then, who was No. 2?

Well, Alabama's second string.

Then we would say: Ah, that is good. How about No. 3?

Well, that is Clemson--or somebody else.

We would say: OK. Well, how about No. 4?

Well, that is Alabama's third string.

So we would like to tease and have fun.

But whenever I watch the Alabama football games now, it is not only about Bear Bryant; I think about Chairman Shelby. I think about all of the amazing things that he has done in Congress, in the House and in the Senate, not only for Alabama--and he has done quite a few good things for Alabama, but he has done an awful lot of good things for this country. I think, where the rubber really hits the road on so many of these things when legislation gets authorized, whether it is defense or anything else, it has got to be funded.

So, if you really look back at the length of this gentleman's career in the House and in the Senate and at what he has actually done and at all of the things that he has been a part of and been involved with, it is monumental. It is iconic. It is a big, big deal, and we are going to miss him a lot.

I just want to say thank you to Senator Shelby and to his wonderful, beautiful, classy wife, Annette, from both myself and my wife, Mikey. It has been great working with him. I hope we will see a lot of him in the future.

Congratulations on just an incredible career in the U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.