Wyoming’s Senator John Barrasso (R) worked third shift on the Senate’s Slumber Party Tuesday night. In the hour of 3 AM Mountain Time, the newly appointed Senator approached the speaking platform in the Senate Chamber.
In the historic first speech which supported the troops and the cause, Senator Barrasso paid tribute to his predecessor, the odd hours worked by medical professionals, and five Wyoming cities and towns. Following is the transcript from the Senate’s Daily Digest:
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore: The Senator from Wyoming.
Mr. BARRASSO: Thank you, Mr. President.
This is the first time I am addressing this body. I am filling the seat of former U.S. Senator Craig Thomas, a marine, a warrior, and an American hero. He was a gentleman from Wyoming who has left large boots to fill.
Now, some people have suggested that when I give my first speech, I do it at a time during the day when many people back home in Wyoming would be watching television.
Mr. President, you are also from the Rocky Mountain Time Zone, and you know people get up early. But at home it is now 3 a.m., and I doubt we have many viewers at home.
I was sworn in a little over 3 weeks ago, but it is like I have never left home. As a physician, an orthopedic surgeon, trauma surgeon, I am used to getting up at this hour and working at all unusual hours. People of Wyoming know that, and they call on me day and night. That is why I am here at this hour.
About 21 hours ago, we had a bipartisan breakfast to discuss this very issue. At that body, I told the whole group I was the most prepared to be up at this hour working. I am delighted to be with you. But we are here debating a very serious issue.
I spent a lot of time with Senator Thomas in the last year, driving him around the State of Wyoming, discussing the war, visiting about the war, about his trip to Baghdad, talking about the fact that we are threatened in a global war on terror, and that this is a threat to our way of life.
As a background, as a trauma surgeon and also as a Wyoming State Senator in the State Senate, I chaired the Transportation, Highways, and Military Affairs Committee. In that position, I asked to go and make sure that the Wyoming troops were getting everything they needed in Afghanistan and Baghdad. I was unable to make that trip. The arrangements could not be made. But I was able to go to Walter Reed. At Walter Reed, I was able to visit the troops, the wounded warriors,
because I wanted to make sure that both as a State senator and as an orthopedic surgeon those folks were getting the kind of care they deserved.
What I saw were hero warriors, people who lost a limb or two limbs, and they wanted to return to combat. They wanted to do anything they could to get back with their buddies and fight for freedom.
Wyoming has paid the price, as has every State. I have been to services for young people who have lost their lives. I have held and tried to comfort family members. A little over a month ago, I got a call from my physician assistant. Her son is in Iraq. Her nephew was also in Iraq, and she had just gotten the news that her nephew had been killed. I went to visit the family.
These are brave warriors. These are people doing everything they can for freedom and for our Nation. They did not die in vain.
This past weekend, I was home in Wyoming. I had a town meeting in Douglas. I was also home over the Fourth of July. I had town meetings in Jackson and in Lander. I went to a couple rodeos, as I am sure you do as well. I talked to hundreds of folks traveling around the State. When I went to the rodeos–whether in Casper, or on the Fourth of July in Cody, where I attended it with a former U.S. Senator from Wyoming who has served on the Iraq Study Group–when they ride into the arena holding the American flag, people stand, take off their hat, and put their hand over their heart. The announcer does not have to tell them to do that. They just do it.
At both of those rodeos, in Casper and in Cody, they dedicated the “Star Spangled Banner” with a salute to Craig Thomas, former marine. Susan Thomas was there at both events and received the love of the crowd. Then, at both events, the announcer asked for prayers for the bravest men and women in the world, those who are fighting to keep us free.
What I heard from people all around Wyoming was: Do not quit. Do not pull out. Support the troops.
What are the consequences of withdrawal? Well, we heard it today with the Cornyn amendment. It passed today 94 to 3. The purpose: “To express the sense of the Senate that it is in the national security interest of the United States that Iraq not become a failed state and a safe haven for terrorists.”
We can go through the findings.
The Senate makes the following findings:
A failed state in Iraq would become a safe haven for Islamic radicals, including al Qaeda and Hezbollah, who are determined to attack the United States and United States allies.
The Iraq Study Group report found that “[a] chaotic Iraq could provide a still stronger base of operations for terrorists who seek to act regionally or even globally.”
The Iraq Study Group noted that “Al Qaeda will portray any failure by the United States in Iraq as a significant victory that will be featured prominently as they recruit for their cause in the region and around the world.”
We can go on and on, but to me, the Iraq Study Group’s final report, page 67, says it best:
The point is not for the United States to set timetables or deadlines for withdrawal, an approach that we oppose.
With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.