Dem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches

A pair of Democratic senators urged their colleagues to focus on bipartisanship as they gave their farewell speeches on Tuesday. 

Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOn The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction Gary Cohn criticizes the shutdown: 'Completely wrong' EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (D-N.D.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party Senate approves funding bill, preventing partial government shutdown MORE (D-Ind.), who both lost their reelection bids in November, talked about their own work across the aisle and advised their colleagues to work together to tackle large problems facing the country.


Heitkamp — who gave her speech as colleagues from both parties sat and listened in the chamber — said each member joining Congress had to decide if they "want to solve problems or not" and that "gridlock and partisanship does not have to rule the day."

"One Tuesday, I challenge you, you have the Democratic caucus and their lunch give a list of the 10 problems that America confronts that they want to solve and have the Republican conference do the same thing, and I would just bet you that if you match those two lists, they would look pretty similar. They'd probably be identical," Heitkamp said.

Heitkamp, who lost her seat last month to Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerGOP senators would support postponing State of the Union Dems blast EPA nominee at confirmation hearing Hopes fade for bipartisan bills in age of confrontation MORE (R-N.D.), added that Congress needed "more political courage" and urged her colleagues to take back power from leadership.

"We need members of Congress who are willing to take tough votes because it's the right thing to do, even if it puts their reelection in jeopardy. We need more members who are not scared to stand up when someone in their party uses fear and lies to win support," she said.

Donnelly, in his separate farewell speech, touted his work with Republican senators, noting he's "been found to be one of the most bipartisan members."

"I know it sounds naive, constantly working together, but we can and we must and we know from recent experience there's a lot of things we can work together on, to be more functional, to be more productive," he said.

He also stressed the need for lawmakers to work together to tackle long-term issues, particularly the country's debt, warning that it is on an "unstoppable course" unless Congress acts.

"I'm concerned about our inability here to tackle serious, long-term issues. ... Our obligation as public servants is to leave a country for our children and grandchildren that's in better shape than we got it," he said.