(Senate - June 27, 2013)

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[Pages S5484-S5485]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                           IMMIGRATION REFORM

  Mr. BENNET. In the vein of thank-yous, I wanted to come down after 
this historic day, passing this historic bill, to say some thank-yous. 
I have already thanked my colleagues in the Gang of 8 and the other 
Senators who worked so hard on this bill, and there will be a time to 
do that on another occasion.
  Sometimes people have asked me during the course of my checkered 
career: How did you get to do this? Why did they let you do this? How 
did somebody with no apparent skill or aptitude for public education, 
for example, get to run the Denver Public Schools, one of the most 
cherished things I have ever done.
  My answer has always been the same, which is the key is to find a 
bunch of people who are better at doing their job than you would ever 
be at doing their job. Assemble them, organize them around a project, a 
challenge or an obstacle and let them do their thing.
  The Presiding Officer spoke eloquently about this yesterday when he 
thanked his personal staff and the Senate staff on his way back to 
  I ask unanimous consent to submit the list of staff for the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record , as follows:

       Staff Thank Yous:
       Senator McCain: Mark Delich;
       Senator Durbin: Joe Zogby, and Mara Silver;
       Senator Graham: Matt Rimkunas;
       Senator Menendez: Kerri Talbot, and Molly Groom;
       Senator Flake: Chandler Morse

  Mr. BENNET. Of all the staff in the Senators' offices who worked on 
this bill, I will take further time tonight to mention a few names. 
First, I thank people on my staff, Rachel Velasquez and Stefanie 
Aarthun, who did amazing work, both of them, over many months on this 
bill and not only here. Also, we worked on the Colorado Compact in the 
State of Colorado. This was what enabled us to be part of this 
  I have thought throughout this process how important the work was 
that we did in Colorado in preparation for this moment, to get to this 
moment. It simply would have been impossible to succeed at producing 
what we call the Colorado Compact, composed of six principles. They 
were so bipartisan that when we had the press conference, the person 
who came to read the first of these principles was actually my 
Republican opponent in the 2010 Senate race, Ken Buck. I want to thank 
him for that and the others who were part of the compact.

  I especially thank my deputy chief of staff, Sarah Hughes, who did an 
amazing job of pulling everybody together. She has been with me longer 
than anybody on my staff. Nothing I could have accomplished in the jobs 
I have had before and certainly not in this instance could I have done 
without Sarah Hughes.
  The same goes for Jon Davidson, who is my chief of staff and who is a 
model for what a chief of staff in the Senate should be--or anywhere 
else, for that matter, but particularly here, where the pressures can 
be so extraordinary. His ability to attract an incredibly talented team 
of people who work on all kinds of issues, from immigration, to health 
care, to education, is incredibly important in the constituent service 
we do both here and in Colorado. Simply none of it would have happened 
if somehow I hadn't been lucky enough to hire Jonathan Davidson, who 
has been around this place, actually, as a young person, for a very 
long time, having been, among other things, Paul Sarbanes' chief of 
staff when he was the chair of the Banking Committee.
  By my side both before I came to the Senate and in the Senate on this 
issue has been Sergio Gonzales, who has worked tirelessly. 
``Tirelessly'' doesn't even capture it--24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 
it has felt like. He certainly looks that way. He won't appreciate my 
saying that, but it is true, and people who know Sergio will know what 
I am talking about. He has done an amazing job with a sense of humor 
and has served not just me during this but the entire Gang of 8, and we 
will be forever grateful.
  There were many times during this process that I have thought about 
Sergio's grandfather and his grandmother. His grandfather, Corky 
Gonzales--Rodolfo ``Corky'' Gonzales--played such an important role in 
Colorado's history and the history of the West, and a library was just 
named for him last week. I have wondered what he would think about 
knowing we live in a country where his grandson has helped to shepherd 
across the line the most important immigration reform in this country's 
history. So I thank Sergio Gonzales for his leadership as well.
  None of this would have been possible without Chuck Schumer, whom I 
talked about earlier. None of it would have been possible without his 
incredible staff: Leon Fresco, Stephanie Martz, Mike Lynch, his chief 
of staff--all of whom did an extraordinary job of keeping us on track 
and keeping Chuck on track, and I deeply appreciate that.
  The others I wanted to mention while on the floor today are the 
staffs of the people with whom we negotiated the agriculture provisions 
of this bill. Dianne Feinstein did a great job leading that effort, 
with Chris Thompson, Neil Quinter, and Kim Alton, who all work for her. 
I deeply appreciate their work.
  From Orrin Hatch's office, Matt Sandgren did an excellent job all the 
way through.
  I particularly want to say thank you to Marco Rubio's staff and their 
efforts to bring Democrats and Republicans together on this issue. This 
is the first time we have had an immigration bill where the agriculture 
provisions in the bill are endorsed by both the growers and the farm 
workers union. That has

[[Page S5485]]

never happened before. I thank all of them for doing that. We would not 
have accomplished that without some very late night meetings, and 
Enrique Gonzalez was always there along with John Baselice. He will 
never forgive me for that, and Enrique will never let me forget it, but 
they did extraordinary work on that part of the bill and other parts of 
the bill as well.
  I thank the leader's staff--Serena Hoy--the Judiciary Committee 
staff, and the floor staff.
  As I say, I have submitted names for the Record, but there are names 
here that are too often not mentioned on the floor of the Senate, so I 
want to read these names. These are the schedulers for the eight 
Senators who worked on this bill so hard for so many months.
  The day I knew we were actually going to get this done was the day 
John McCain said in his office some months ago that unless we begin to 
meet three times a week, we are never going to get this done. As the 
Presiding Officer knows, that is an enormous commitment of time, to 
meet three times a week, and we did it week in and week out. Sometimes 
we weren't even in Washington but back home on the telephone, but we 
carved out the time to do it, and that could not have happened without 
the schedulers in our offices--from my perspective, certainly not 
without Kristin Mollet, who is my extraordinary scheduler. I told her 
at our first meeting--I don't know if I was interviewing her or she was 
interviewing me; it was probably a little bit of both--that the 
scheduler is the heart of the operation. If the schedule doesn't work, 
the wheels come off and nothing else works. Kristin Mollet has done an 
extraordinary job getting us through this process.
  In no particular order, let me please say thank you to Alice James, 
with Senator Graham; Megan Runyan, with Senator Flake; Rob Kelly, with 
Senator Menendez; Claire Reuschel, with Senator Durbin; Jessica 
Bonfiglio, in Senator Rubio's office; and a very special thanks to Alex 
Victor, with Senator Schumer, and Ellen Cahill in Senator McCain's 
office. We could not have done this without them.
  In the story I told before about when I was a superintendent and 
working in business, not in politics--I had never run for office before 
when I took this job--I mentioned that the key is finding people a lot 
better at doing their job than you would ever be at doing their job. 
Well, that has never been more true than it has been in the Senate, 
where the quality of the work we do depends entirely on the quality of 
the staff we have. So I want to say thank you to all the Senate staff 
for their efforts.