"I know I'm going to be seeing him - wherever there's a good bagel or a good political event, I know that Paul Sarbanes will be there."
WASHINGTON - Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) went to the Senate floor in the final hours of the 109th Congress last Friday to honor the significant contributions and service of her longtime friend and colleague, retiring Senator Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.). Senators Mikulski and Sarbanes have represented the people of Maryland together in the U.S. Congress for 30 years.
Excerpts from Senator Mikulski's floor statement, as delivered, are reprinted below:
"I came to the Senate 20 years ago, but I knew Senator Sarbanes long before that. I knew him when he was just a young lawyer starting out to run for the House of Delegates. At that time I was also a young social worker. We were working to stop a highway in a neighborhood. And we were the young reformers. Baltimore was dominated by political bosses, by political machines, and Senator Paul Sarbanes was the first to really buck the machine, to kind of go directly door-to-door to represent the people. Baltimore hadn't seen it for years, somebody who would actually go out and knock on doors, ask people for their votes, bypass the existing establishment and give people the power to - and to empower -the people.
"Senator Sarbanes and I have been side-by-side for so many years. And all of my colleagues here have talked about the enormous trust and respect that they have for him. Much has been said, and there's much to be respected, about Senator Sarbanes, his intellect and his integrity. But 'trust' is really the word. You can trust Senator Sarbanes. You can count on Senator Sarbanes. You always knew he would be there when you needed him. The people of Maryland knew that. When they needed him to stand up for the people who often didn't have a voice, the people with dirt under their fingernails, the people who work in those kind of jobs where at the end of the day you have a bad back, you earned the minimum wage, you don't have a perfect health, and you wonder who really cares about you - they all knew that Paul Sarbanes would do that.
"And when people invested their life savings and their pensions and they saw corporate greed just eating all of that up, they wondered who would speak for honesty and integrity. They knew they could trust Paul Sarbanes. Issue after issue, people knew that they could trust him.
"You could also count on his wonderful staff. The Mikulski staff has such great admiration for the Sarbanes staff. They are so outstanding, like the man that they work for, and they have great intellectual rigor, great integrity, and an ethic of hard work.
"You know, we often laugh that we're the diner Democrats. You've heard about Senator Sarbanes' mom and dad running a diner, my mom and dad owned the grocery store, so we were the 'grassroots' kind of people. And so, we feel very close to the people.
"But again, a tribute to him would be incomplete without recognizing the dynamic duo of Christine [Mrs. Paul Sarbanes], who has been an outstanding partner for Paul Sarbanes and quite a force in the community in her own right - whether it's been working for the U.N. and for UNICEF, or being on the library board and expanding literacy opportunities. Christine has been a force in and of herself, and for those wonderful children, including John, who now joins us in the Congress.
"I could talk at length about Paul Sarbanes, but I will tell you he's been my friend. We've sat next to each other on the Senate floor. We've actually voted in the same precinct. And when I came to the Senate, I was the only Democratic woman. But I had a saying as I traveled Maryland and traveled the country when people asked, 'well, how does it feel to be the only woman, the only Democratic woman in the Senate.' And I said, 'you know, I might be all by myself, but I'm never alone, I have Paul Sarbanes.' And that was true for the people of Maryland, too.
"So we wish him well. I know I'm going to be seeing him - wherever there's a good bagel or a good political event, I know that Paul Sarbanes will be there. Paul, Godspeed and God bless."