Mikulski Gives Farewell Speech To US Senators

She will be stepping down after 30 years as Maryland’s US Senator.

Washington DC (KM)  After 45 years in elected office, Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski is stepping down. She delivered her farewell speech in the US Senate Chamber on Wednesday.

In her comments, Mikulski, 80, said her job was more than just drafting bills and developing policy. “One of the things I’m really proud of is my constituent service staff,” she said. “If you were a veteran and you needed help, or you had a Social Security of a Medicare problem, you could call Senator Barb, and you didn’t feel that you had to go to a $100 fundraiser, or know somebody who had connections. The only connection you needed was a phone.”

Mikulski was elected to the Senate in 1986.

She also said one of the great pleasures of her job was interacting with citizens. “I firmly believe that the best ideas come from the people. That’s where some of my greatest accomplishments came from,” Mikulski said. “One of the things I loved the most was being in Maryland, moving around the state, going to all the counties in the state.”

One of the ideas she got from citizens had to do with  families who had a relative who had Alzheimers Disease or another illness that prevented them from fully functioning. Mikulski said many citizens approached her and said they had to sell their house or deplete their savings to care for this family member. What came about was the “Spousal Anti-Impoverishment Rule.” “AARP tells me that since that legislation passed over 20 years ago, we’ve helped 1-million seniors not lose their home or their family farm because one becomes too ill because of that dreaded ‘A’ word or Parkinsons or others.”

Mikulski is also famous for championing the Lilly Ledbetter Act. “And also listening to women who work hard every single day, and yet weren’t not get equal pay for equal work,” she said. “And of course we heard it from Lilly Ledbetter. But we heard it from lots of Lillys; and we heard it from lots of Roses, and lots of Marys, and lots of Atonias, and lots of Marias, and that’s why we worked to passed the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act.”

In another issue which affected women, Senator Mikulski heard that women were excluded from protocols for studies at the National Institutes of Health. She says she worked legislators Olympia Snowe, Connie Morella and Pat Schroder. “So Olympia, Connie, Pat, Barb, showed up at NIH and we pounded the table and said ‘let’s start practicing good science instead of bad stereotypes. Make sure we’re included where we should in a legitimate, scientific way,'” she said. “Out of that came the appointment of Bernadine Healy, the head of NIH. Out of that came the Office of Women’s Health at NIH. And then out of that came the famous hormone replacement study that Dr. Healy championed. And then on both sides of the aisle, {Senators) Tom Harkin and Arlene Spector, helped us get money in the federal check book.”

Mikulski said when she came to the Senate in 1987, she was the first woman elected to that body in her own right. There are now 20 women in the US Senate.

In her remarks, she said she will  never have a another job as consequential as being a US Senator.

Mikulski began her political career 45 years ago being elected to the Baltimore City Council, where she served for five years. She served for 10 years in the House of Representatives, and 30 years in the US Senate.

She received a loud applause from her colleagues after she finished her speech.

When she leaves office in January, Chris Van Hollen will be sworn in as US Senator from Maryland.


By Kevin McManus