On Senate Floor, Portman Honors Retiring Senator Bob Corker

December 14, 2018 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) recognized the career of Senator Bob Corker (R-TN). Portman is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Senator Corker chairs.

In his speech, Portman said, “I can tell you with certainty that during Chairman Corker’s tenure on the Foreign Relations Committee, our allies around the world have benefited and our adversaries have been held accountable. That’s his approach. Pretty simple.”

Transcript of his remarks can be found below and a video can be found here.

“Mr. President, today on the floor the Senate voted on legislation dealing with Saudi Arabia, two issues, the death of journalist Khashoggi and also the ongoing and tragic war in Yemen. You may have seen on the floor somebody who helped orchestrate this debate. I thought it was a healthy debate. I thought it was good. People offered amendments, offered the opportunity to discuss their amendments and debate them in full. I appreciate the fact that at the end of the day, the Senate voted by an overwhelming margin, in fact by unanimous consent, for a resolution that I think sends a clear signal to Saudi Arabia, to our other partners in the region, and, frankly, to the Trump administration.

“The person who was orchestrating this, you may have seen down on the floor of the Senate, is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His name is Bob Corker. Senator Corker is leaving after this week, assuming Congress is going to be out of session after this week or next week. And I think we will. He’s chosen to retire, not to run for reelection. So come January, we’ll have another senator from Tennessee who will be joining us. But Bob Corker is going to go back into the private sector. So today I want to talk a little about Chairman Corker, the person you saw on the floor if you were watching earlier, and a friend but also a very valued member of the United States Senate.

“The reason other people aren’t on the floor talking about him right now is that he chose not to give a departure speech, which is unusual. Most senators choose to take to the floor and give a speech about their departure and their reflections on being here and what they might do in the future and then other members come and talk about them. Bob Corker, in his typical style, being a guy who’s here for all the right reasons, and that’s not him, it’s about others for him have said, I don’t think I’m going to give a departure speech so I don’t think we’ll have a chance to talk about him as we have with other colleagues in their presence because he’s not going to give that speech.

“But I will say he deserves to have others like me talk about his record because he has had so many accomplishments. He’s been a leading voice in this body on so many important initiatives and issues. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of course on the global stage he’s been active focusing on issues to improve the U.S. image around the world, our diplomacy is something he believes in and has supported. He is concerned about the U.S. role in the world. He wants to be sure America continues to play the leading role on things like human rights and spreading democracy and opening up channels of commerce. But he’s also been very involved on budget issues, focusing on the debt and the deficit and the problems that we face here in this country. And finally, he’s been active on other legislative matters. One that comes to mind is banking issues. He’s on the Banking Committee and very involved in how to deal with Freddie Mac and Fannie May and particularly after the financial crisis, some of the issues that arose and then after the Great Recession.

“So he has been very active as a legislator. He also brings an interesting perspective to this place because to this day he would tell you he’s a business person, not a politician. And he came up as a developer, a builder. He didn’t come up through politics. He did become the mayor of Chattanooga and that’s how he got involved in the political world. But he’s got this business approach to things around here, which I think is refreshing. He’s also got the work ethic that comes from somebody that comes from the private sector—and that’s relentless.

“I see it on display every day but I think it’s been part of Bob’s personality since he was a kid. He started his first job at age 13. That was picking up trash and bagging ice. He started his own construction company at age 25. By the way, that construction company later expanded to 18 states, 17 states in addition to his home state of Tennessee. And he first entered public service not in a very glamorous job but having been successful in the private sector, he wanted to give back and he was offered an opportunity to help his state, and he said he wanted to be the Finance and Administration Department Director of Tennessee. Sort of like the budget person. And he was very helpful to the governor and to the state of Tennessee in that role and then became mayor of Chattanooga, his hometown.

“In 2006, he ran for federal office for the first time and that was for the United States Senate. He quickly to rose to prominence as someone who had expertise on some of the issues. That was after the housing crisis, so he was focused on that issue—the housing market—and as someone who advocated for conservative principles, like reining in federal spending and reducing the United States deficit. In 2012 he was reelected to the Senate handedly and has been chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the past four years.

“I’m a member of that committee, so I’ve had the opportunity to see his work up close and watch how he works patiently with Republicans and Democrats alike and focuses not just on the sound bites and throwing out the rhetoric but actually how do you get something done that helps our great country. I can tell you with certainty that during Chairman Corker’s tenure on the Foreign Relations Committee, our allies around the world have benefited and our adversaries have been held accountable. That’s his approach. Pretty simple.

“He’s played a key role in helping restore America’s leadership role in the world, and I’m pleased with the work we’ve accomplished from combating Russia’s continued aggression in eastern Europe to standing up for our friend and ally Israel, to what we did today with regard to sending a clear message on values. Just recently, legislation he championed is called the BUILD Act. And it was signed into law by the president without a lot of fanfare, but it’s going to make a big difference in helping our country, in helping not just our image around the world but ensuring we’re helping bringing other countries out of poverty by using U.S. market forces that work. It helps bring U.S. private sector investment to low income countries around the world to reduce poverty, to grow investment. And this is important in any context but certainly today with one of our competitors, China, trying to do the same thing but using another tactic, not the private sector but the public sector.

“It’s a perfect example of the kind of impact Bob Corker has had on this body. He’s built up international relationships and he’s bolstered our national security all at once.

“It’s been a pleasure working with him and I wish him all the best. He is a restless guy so he’s going to end up doing something else very creative with his life, I’m sure. And I know he will enjoy spending more time with Elizabeth, his wife of 30 years, and their two daughters and two grandchildren. But I’m eager to see what Bob is going to do next. I know we will be hearing from him because his thirst for public service and helping others is just too great.

“So to Bob Corker, congratulations on a career of public service, and I hope you enjoy the next exciting chapter of your life.”