REFLECTIONS ON CONGRESS
(Extensions of Remarks - December 12, 2014)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1803-E1804]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                        REFLECTIONS ON CONGRESS

                                 ______
                                 

                          HON. SPENCER BACHUS

                               of alabama

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, December 11, 2014

  Mr. BACHUS. Mr. Speaker, as I prepare to retire after 22 years in the 
House, I feel as I did when I first walked into this chamber as a 
freshman--it is an extraordinary privilege to be able to serve and 
being a U.S. representative is a humbling opportunity I never imagined 
I might have.
  As Members of Congress, we see the Capitol Dome every day and I 
suspect that none of us ever fails to be inspired by its beauty and 
what it symbolizes. It is the incarnation of words attributed to 
Alexander Hamilton: ``Here . . . the people govern.''
  In times of peace and war, prosperity and economic crisis, and social 
consensus and societal change, America stands unique among nations and 
in history. The phrase that perfectly explains this is ``American 
Exceptionalism,'' which I truly believe in. You see it in the 
leadership that America provides to the world, in the service of our 
troops and veterans, and in the spirit of our people.
  In Congress, I have served with three Presidents and five Speakers 
and been in this institution for the final years of the collapse of the 
Soviet Union, the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks, the accounting scandals 
and later the financial crisis of 2008, and many other historic events. 
Frequently, the concern expressed in our nation was, ``Will we make it 
through?'' Each time, America demonstrated its resilience and the 
reason for that, in my view, is because of our freedom.
  It has been my privilege to serve on three great committees: the 
Financial Services Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the 
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. My colleagues accorded me 
the honor of selecting me as Financial Services Committee Chairman, the 
first to come from my home state of Alabama since Representative Henry 
B. Steagall in the 1930s. Little did I know that my leadership term on 
the committee would coincide with the most severe financial crisis to 
test the U.S. since the Great Depression. During the depths of the 
financial crisis in the fall of 2008, we worked to prevent a repeat of 
that catastrophe by stabilizing our weakened banking system; I am proud 
of my advocacy

[[Page E1804]]

of the successful capital purchase program as a solution.
  However, if asked about my most satisfying achievement, it would be 
debt relief. The bipartisan agreement that emerged from Congress and 
the Clinton and Bush Administrations to provide debt relief to the 
world's poorest nations has reduced hunger, poverty and disease and 
lifted tens of millions of children and families from despair to hope. 
It is an example of what this institution is capable of doing at its 
finest.
  As Dean of the Alabama congressional delegation, I have been honored 
to be part of a group of House Members and Senators that works across 
party lines to promote the interests of our state as a whole. Some of 
the projects that stand out to me are the construction of I-22 and the 
Northern Beltline, the creation of the Cahaba River National Wildlife 
Refuge, the location of the National Computer Forensics Center in 
Hoover, and especially the construction of the Alabama National 
Cemetery in Montevallo, a shrine to our veterans and their families.
  One thing that Members of Congress learn quickly is that their 
effectiveness is greatly enhanced by a high quality staff. Over the 
years, I have had many talented and dedicated individuals on my 
personal and committee staffs. In the past on this floor, I have noted 
the contributions of Larry Lavender, Warren Tryon, and Gerry Cashin. 
While time does not permit me to name every staff member, I would like 
to acknowledge loyal staffers who have been with me during my final 
year in office: Michael Staley, Tim Johnson, Brett Quick, Philip 
Swartzfager, Thomas Crockett, Summer Bravo, Brooks McClendon, Katherine 
Runkle, and Blake Lasuzzo in my Washington office and Christian 
Sanford, Ethan Vice and Pam Cook in my Birmingham office. Both the 
institution of Congress and bureaucracy of the federal government are 
large and complex, and experience matters when you interact with them 
on behalf of your constituents.
  One thing I cannot stress enough is that I would not have been able 
to achieve anything without the support of my family. My wife Linda is 
my source of comfort, inspiration, and love. We are blessed with five 
wonderful children--Candace, Warren, Lisa, Stuart, and Elliott--and 
seven delightful grandchildren--Christopher, Madeline, Olivia, Rayner, 
Charlotte, Braden and Lillie. With great eagerness, I look forward to 
having more time to spend with my beautiful family.
  In conclusion, I leave with great respect as well as with an abiding 
fondness for this institution. A departing hope is that while we 
vigorously debate policy, as we elected to do, we focus on doing so 
with respect and civility. My father gave me the advice, ``If you can't 
say anything nice about a person, don't say anything at all.'' That's 
not an easy thing to do in politics, but it's a good standard to aspire 
to. A benefit, I believe, would be an increase in public regard for 
this legislative body, which is vital in a society where consent comes 
from the governed. We should strive to make the public proud of their 
Congress; as Members, we should take personal pride in and honor the 
tradition of this essential institution.
  The people of America look to us for leadership and, in turn, the 
nations of the world look to America for leadership. This is still 
President Reagan's beloved ``Shining City on the Hill.'' My hope is 
that during the time the people of Alabama have given me here, brief in 
the scope of our country's glorious history, I have been able to 
contribute in some small way to maintaining the Promise of America for 
our children, grandchildren, and the generations to come.

                          ____________________