Senator Mark O. Hatfield


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Last Senate Speech:
Reflecting on Time in Senate - Senator Hatfield’s Staff

September 30, 1996

Congressional Record, 26667-26668


Mr. HATFIELD.  Mr. President, I would like at this time to take a few moments to reflect on my leaving the Senate, and to comment upon the extraordinary staff that I have enjoyed over the years, the tremendous work that they do every day, and the staffs for all of the Senators I am sure would mete some of the same comments and earn some of the same accolades that I would like to extend to my staff.

 I have always said that I believed that the soul of my office is really the casework where you can make a difference in the life of some individual---it may be a Social Security check that is fouled up; it may be an immigration problem in which a family can be reunited.  We all have similar work in this category.  But I really think that has probably more bridge-building impact upon people thinking and knowing that their Government does care and that they have compassion.

 I would like to thank particularly Melanie Curtis, Chris Tye, Chris Brown, and Lisa White.  They have served the people of my State in an extraordinarily capable and compassionate fashion.

 My Washington office has been kept running by a dedicated group of administrative professionals led by my office manager, Lynn Baker, who, like many in this Senate, is raising a family as a single parent and juggling her workload in order to meet both her duties to the office and, more especially, to her young son.  She is assisted by a dedicated group of Senate professionals as well.

 I am sure that no Senator fully knows all the details that go into the creating of a daily schedule.  We all carry these little cards around.  We all know, too, that situations change during the day.  Brenda Hart has been, for the last 5 years, my chief scheduler.  She has been a confidant, she has been a political operative, and she has been the cheerleader of our office by her extraordinary talent of baking.  She keeps that bakery going at her home and brings the results to the office to share, whether it is late at night or whether it is during the day.  I think she is the first to arrive in my office in the morning and the last to leave.  I can’t believe that an office could run more smoothly than she directs.  One of the newsmen the other day dubbed her the den mother for all the people in my office.  I refer to her as mother superior, as she takes a very direct role by not just handing me a card, but she helps direct me.

 Of course, the reason we are here is to pass legislation, and there is no legislative staff I feel that is as skilled as mine.  I take great pride in all parts of my office, especially the legislative staff.

 For some 6 years a young lady by the name of Sue Hildick has been my legislative director.  She became my legislative director at the age of 26.  I doubt that history will show that a legislative director of an office has started that undertaking being so young, but she has done it as a mature professional with great judgment, along with all of her directing and coordinating of legislative staff.

 Of the 14 members of my policy team, 11 started in my office as interns, including my chief of staff, Steve Nousen.

 Mr. President, we all know that offices have to have a tight hand.  They have to have an understanding hand, and I believe that Steve Nousen has performed that duty in such an extraordinary way in terms of efficiency and keeping a happy, well-run operation.  I suppose I would say that Steve had a very good beginning.  He had professional training as a schoolteacher and as a civics teacher in a high school in a small community in my State.  There in small communities you know everyone.  Everyone knows you.  They know your strengths.  They know your weaknesses and yet you have to be a good neighbor especially in school because parents in that type of school take a very active interest.  As a consequence, they are watching you as well to inspire, teach, and to set the example before their children.  Steve Nousen, as I say, has a great and wonderful record as my chief of staff, has my total confidence.

 There are three members of my staff as part of my legislative team:  Doug Pahl, Karen Matson, and Kristi Gaines.  They earned their law degree while going to night school and carrying a full load during the day as staff members.  I am proud of that record.  Ken Hart, my current press secretary, started as an intern and finished his master’s degree program at American University while serving as a staff assistant.  I come from an academia background, and, of course, there is nothing that gives me more satisfaction than watching my staff grow in maturity and academic accomplishment.  We have been supportive of their efforts.  These are a few of them that I refer to, not every single person, because that would take us into a time beyond my allocation at this moment.

 I have praised my staff on the Appropriations Committee many times because each bill we have keyed in upon the performance of the staff in charge, but let me again refer to the chief of staff of the Appropriations Committee.  I have to say that he came as an intern from the divinity school at Duke University.  He was headed for the Methodist ministry.  I feel sort of a guilt complex here at the moment because in coming as an intern he never left.  So the Methodists have suffered as a result.  I have always said, being ecumenical, my previous staff director came from the Princeton seminary and never returned.  I think they are doing the Lord’s work when they are involved in public service, and I think we will know they affected the kingdom in a very special way at some point in the future.

 Keith Kennedy came, as I say, as an intern and almost 25 years later we have reached this point of our relationship.  Again, I would have to have volumes to describe the history, the experiences we have shared together.  But I like to think that because we have really a comparatively low turnover, probably the least turnover---I know a few years ago there was a survey done, and we had the least turnover of any staff in the Senate.  I would think that longevity of that staff adds to their abilities and the quality of their service to the citizens of this country.

 I just have to say I have been blessed by the quality of the people who have served and are the working relationships that I have enjoyed.  I have learned a great deal from my staff.  I have learned that young people are so enthusiastic.  They have so much trust and faith in the system, this great political system of ours and they are determined to make it work, and so individually and corporately I take my hat off to one of the great reasons why I have been able to stay here for 30 years and have achieved a certain degree of success in a certain number of fields.

 Mr. President, I wish to take this opportunity to add to the remarks that I just made to further commend the excellent staff that we are fortunate to have here in Congress.

 Over the course of the last week, I have had the opportunity to see the Appropriations process at work like few others do.  Working around the clock, our negotiations with the House of Representatives and the White House was an all consuming task.  Mr. Panetta and OMB Director Raines ably represented the priorities of the White House while Congressmen Livingston and Obey did the same for the House.

 I wish to highlight the efforts of three people who are the mechanics of this effort.  The people who ensure that the decisions that are made are translated into words that are property included in the bill and report and do what is intended they do.

 John Mikel and Dennis Kedzior of the House Appropriations Committee and Jack Conway of the Senate Appropriations Committee are the mechanics that have so developed the confidence of both bodies that we can confidently vote on this large piece of legislation knowing that it is technically correct and properly drafted.

 With over 60 years of combined service to the Federal Government, their commitment to the process and making government a better place serves as an example for all who work here.

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