Roll Call: “Washington’s Farewell Gets Personal for Retiring Sen. Portman”

February 23, 2021 | Portman Difference

WASHINGTON - A new story published this morning in Roll Call highlights Senator Portman’s thoughts and reflections on delivering President George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address on the Senate floor. Every year since 1896, the Senate has observed Washington’s Birthday by selecting one of its members, alternating parties, to read the 7,641-word statement in legislative session. It remains today one of the Senate’s oldest, most cherished traditions. Of note in the story is this excerpt:

Senators read the words of President George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address each year on the floor of the Senate — it’s an enduring chamber tradition. It was an especially meaningful tradition this year for Sen. Rob Portman.

Washington in his letter to “Friends and Fellow-Citizens” described why he would be leaving a life of public service, something personal to Portman, who has announced he will not run for reelection in 2022. 

“He felt like he’d done his duty and it was time for others,” the Ohio Republican said. 

The speech bidding the country goodbye was penned by America’s first president weeks before electors cast ballots in the third American presidential election. The campaign was bitterly fought, and it was the first contested election in the country’s history in which political parties played a role.


“It’s timeless,” Portman said. “And it’s timely because, you know, here we are in a period of our country’s history when we just came through a contentious election and impeachment and in the middle of a crisis, and people are really divided.” 

The full story can be viewed here.