By Julian Pecquet - 01/30/13 09:27 PM EST
Kerry's speech was greeted by a standing ovation from the dozen or so lawmakers on the floor, most of them Democrats. His aides were in attendance, as was his wife, Teresa Heinz-Kerry.
He said the institution can always put parochial interests aside to find the national interest, and said a “new generation of senators” has given him hope.
“I can't tell why, but I do think that it is possible this moment may see a turn in the spirit of the Senate,” he said. “There are new whispers of desire for progress, rumors of new coalitions and a sense of possibility whether it is on energy or immigration.”
Kerry called on the Senate to break through partisan gridlock and get the nation's finances in order or risk seeing America's standing in the world deteriorate. To get there, he said, lawmakers must confront the triple threat of decreased comity, money in politics and self-selecting facts and get to know and respect one another.
“If 100 senators really knew each other – and our leader [Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)] has really worked very hard to make this happen – then you can find the ways to work together.”
Kerry at times grew emotional during the wide-ranging address in which he thanked aides, congressional staff and even journalists for their work helping the Senate run.
For more on Kerry's farewell address, click here.