US Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, his voice at times broken and choked with emotion, delivered his farewell address in the Senate Wednesday afternoon.
He explained that no one expected the outcome of the 2017 special election that made him Alabama’s first Democratic senator since his mentor, U.S. Senator Howell Heflin, retired in 1997.
“It seems like I love a lost cause,” Jones said. “I believe in hope. I believe in redemption. I believe in the possibility.
US Senator Chuck Schumer introduced Jones, calling him “just a joy to be around”.
Schumer praised Jones for sticking to his principles.
“He would do what he always did,” Schumer said. “He would act on principle, he would act on conscience, politics to hell with it.”
Schumer also called Jones for playing a prank on fellow Montana Democrat Senator Jon Tester by calling his cell phone in the middle of a speech.
Schumer said Jones insisted that the 100 Senators sign baseballs he keeps as part of his memorabilia collection, which includes a ball signed by Joe DiMaggio.
Schumer compared Jones to the fictional small town attorney Atticus Finch, the hero of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” noting that Jones was unable to play Finch, but he once played the judge in a production of an adaptation of the novel in Birmingham. Jones is a real Finch, he said.
“It’s the role of his life,” Schumer said.
“I’m humbled,” Jones said, choking.
“My time here is over,” he said. “I can honestly say I had a lot of fun. The past three years have been amazing.
Jones said he hoped to be part of such important legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“I didn’t have the chance to be part of a perfect game,” Jones said.
He noted that he had co-sponsored and helped pass more than 20 bipartisan bills.
“I don’t want to spend my last time in the Senate talking about what I did,” Jones said.
“I want to talk about what needs to be done.
He encouraged senators to continue to support health care for all and to defend the Affordable Care Act.
“The goal is health for everyone,” Jones said. “It is possible to provide a quality education for every child. You just have to roll up your sleeves and do it.
He also encouraged them to make high-speed internet available and affordable for everyone and to raise the minimum wage for working poor people.
“They work, they work hard,” Jones said. “We have to do what we can to lift them out of this poverty. “
Jones said he regretted that law enforcement reform was not passed in response to the May 25 murder of George Floyd and the widespread protests that followed.
“It is possible for law enforcement to serve and protect all Americans, not just some,” and “to eradicate systemic racism,” Jones said.
“I was disappointed that we let this moment go by,” Jones said.
“It’s never too late for justice.
Jones said the Senate must make sure everyone has access to the ballot boxes and make sure the elections are secure, in response to allegations of fraud made by outgoing President Donald Trump.
“Let’s not let these allegations have any credibility in the future,” Jones said. “Together, we can make our elections safe and secure. “
The people’s faith in their government is at stake.
“It is possible to restore the confidence of the American people in government,” Jones said. “This faith has been shaken. But it is possible to restore it.
Jones said he made his own way in the Senate.
“Sen. Schumer never tried to put puppet strings on me,” Jones said. “I was accused of that. He never tried.
US Senator Richard Shelby, the other senator from Alabama, stepped on the podium after Jones and spoke about their friendship.
“I think we’ll be hearing more from him in the weeks and months to come,” Shelby said. “If we work together, Republicans and Democrats, we get things done. Otherwise, things don’t happen.
Several other senators took the podium to congratulate Jones.
Tester opened up about his friendship with Jones. “I don’t think we heard the last time from Doug Jones,” he said.
Jones, a longtime friend of President-elect Joe Biden, is considered the principal candidate for the post of attorney general of the United States. Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, the Republican candidate, defeated Jones in the November 3 election and is expected to take office in the United States Senate on January 3, 2021.