Rockefeller bids the Senate farewell
© Greg Nash

Sen. John RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerBottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease Lobbying World MORE (D-W.Va.) bid farewell to the Senate on Thursday, paying tribute to the institution he has served in for the past 30 years.

“I love the Senate. I love the intensity of the work,” Rockefeller said on the Senate floor. “I love fighting for West Virginia here.

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“I will miss the Senate, but I realize it is time to go.”

Rockefeller delivered his speech while sitting at his desk. He joked that he might go on for “hours and hours,” but spoke for less than 40 minutes.

“There is vast dignity and vast honor in helping people — you cannot let go of it,” Rockefeller said. “I believe genuinely in the ability of government to do good.”

Dozens of senators remained on the floor to listen to his speech. Rockefeller gave them advice, saying compromise is necessary and that good policymaking starts with listening to one another. He said that despite polarizing elections, building bipartisan relationships is key to success.

“When we accomplish something that is meaningful to the people who entrusted us, there is no greater reward,” Rockefeller said. “There is always so much at stake.”

Rockefeller was first elected to the Senate in 1984 and is chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

The senator spoke about his proudest accomplishments, including the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), mine safety legislation, the Affordable Care Act and the America Competes Reauthorization Act among them. 

“People can deride government all they want, but we’re here for a reason,” Rockefeller said. “We must act, that’s who we are as an institution.”

Rockefeller received a standing ovation upon the conclusion of his speech.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) will replace Rockefeller in the new Congress.