Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake Says Goodbye To U.S. Senate In Farewell Speech

Published: Thursday, December 13, 2018 - 3:14pm
Updated: Thursday, December 13, 2018 - 3:24pm
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Jeff Flake and Martch McSally.

This week, outgoing members of Congress are passing the torch to new faces.

“I humbly ask you never forget the privilege it is to serve here and why you are here. Membership in this body is a precious opportunity. Don’t take it lightly, and don’t squander it,” said Martha McSally in a farewell speech on the floor of the House on Wednesday.

She leaves her post there early next year, and Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick will take her seat. McSally was unsuccessful in her bid to replace outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake, who gave his own goodbye to the Senate on Thursday morning.

He started by talking about a debt he says he can never repay, the debt to his family, who has been with him each step of his political career.

“Through 18 years in Washington, our kids grew up thinking it was normal to have their faces plastered on campaign signs along the roadside whenever campaigns roll along. They were dragged to countless fundraisers and campaign events. They were used to having their dad join them, sort of, with a choreographed wave on C-Span at dinnertime,” he said.

Flake served in the U.S. House for 12 years, before being elected to the Senate and serving alongside John McCain. He said he was grateful for his time in Washington and lucky to have been able to serve for so long, and that he is departing with optimism.

But along with that optimism was a warning from Flake.

“My colleagues, to say that our politics is not healthy is something of an understatement," he said. "I believe that we all know well that this is not a normal time, that the threats to our democracy from within and without are real, and none of us can say with confidence how the situation that we now find ourselves in will turn out.”

Flake cautioned that democracy is fragile, and under the right circumstances, susceptible to slipping away. He directly called out Russia in his remarks, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin has hijacked democracy in his own country, and is determined to do so everywhere.

But, he went on to say, our country’s ship has sailed through tumultuous seas for more than 200 years. And so he left the chamber with this:

“Ours is a durable, resilient system of government, designed to withstand the foibles of those who from time to time occupy this place, including yours truly.”

Kyrsten Sinema will succeed Jeff Flake in January.

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