Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, gave a farewell speech to Congressman Eliot Engel, Chairman of the Committee, thanking him for his years of friendship and service.
-Remarks as Delivered-
“Thank you Mr. Speaker, At this point in time, I’d like to take a moment of personal privilege to honor my dear friend, the gentleman from New York.
“This may perhaps be our last time on the floor debating together. We have become good friends over the last two years as Chairman and Ranking Member. I would argue that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
“Chairman Engel often says – and I agree – that when it comes to foreign policy, partisanship stops at the water’s edge.
“In fact, just last year, RealClearPolitics described the Foreign Affairs Committee as an ‘island of calm in the sea of partisanship.’
“‘An island of calm in the sea of partisanship.’ I take that as a compliment, and I know you should too.
“And no one embodies that more than our committee chairman, Eliot Engel.
“I am honored to call him my friend.
“You know, anyone who has ever worked with Chairman Engel – or just even had the opportunity to meet him – knows he is truly a gentleman in every sense of the word.
“He always puts civility first, and he values public service and honor above everything else.
“But not everyone knows that the man’s got a great sense of humor! He’s one of the funniest guys I know.
“That’s why, if you watch videos of us in the Foreign Affairs Committee, you’ll often see him lean over and whisper something to me. And I couldn’t help but respond with laughter. And I shared that sense of humor with him over the last two years.
“Perhaps one of the fondest memories, Mr. speaker, I have, is traveling to Normandy on the 75th anniversary of D-day to see our D-day veterans – ones like my father who fought in World War II as part of the D-day air campaign. To see those brave patriots who crushed and destroyed the evils of Nazi Germany.
“Now for those of you who may not know, there’s a younger picture of Eliot that really looks just like one of the Beatles, and that would be John Lennon. I was thinking of blowing it up and putting it on the floor, but I wanted to save you that. But it’s not a bad-looking picture.
“So when we were on this Codel, we decided, we’re going to break away from the pack and have our own private dinner at Le Maurice in Paris. And I had bought this really cool pair of sunglasses. And they had to be readers, but they were sunglasses. And maybe for a guy from Texas they were a little too funky, but then when I looked at Eliot in that John Lennon look, I handed them to Eliot, he put them on, and he looked absolutely fantastic in those glasses. So I said, Eliot, you can have those glasses, and it always charms me when he puts those glasses on, sometimes at a committee hearing.
“But no matter where he goes, he is always the one to lighten the mood and make people feel more at ease.
“That’s really his way – he wants people to know that they are heard and that he’s in their corner.
“I’ll never forget a trip we took to Columbia on the Venezuela border at the height of the humanitarian crisis.
“There we saw firsthand the six million people who fled the corrupt Maduro regime and the fallout that caused.
“It was truly the worst humanitarian and refugee crisis facing the Western Hemisphere.
“Eliot and I knew that something needed to be done to help.
“As a result, we introduced the United States Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act, which aimed to curb illegal migration, spur economic development, and combat corruption in the area.
“Not long after that, we introduced the bipartisan Global Fragility Act to improve the way the United States deals with fragile nations. And I’m proud to say this bipartisan bill was signed into law last year.
“Both of these legislative achievements are aimed at helping people who need it the most – because that is who Chairman Engel really truly is.
“He sees this very large world we live in and immediately wants to come to the aid of those who are suffering, those who are sick, and those who are needing a helping hand.
“Under Chairman Engel’s leadership on issues like these, he has played a pivotal role in shaping United States foreign policy. The world is – and will continue to be – a more stable and secure place because of him.
“In light of these accomplishments and so much more, I found it only fitting to name this year’s State Department Authorization Act after the Chairman.
“And I’m proud to say the Eliot Engel State Department Act passed the House last year.
“You know, most people would not imagine a Democrat from the Bronx and a Republican from the heart of Texas would ever work so well, but [also] become best of friends – especially not in a town that is so often divided by politics.
“But Mr. Engel and I decided early on – from the start – that we could achieve more if we focused more on the things we agreed on than the things we didn’t agree on. And the fact is we agree on 95% of foreign policy issues.
“And it is through our friendship that we have been able to accomplish so much.
“I would say that serving with you sir – serving with Chairman Engel – has truly been a highlight of my political and professional career on the hill. I know that wherever he goes next and wherever his lovely wife Pat and he go next, that he will continue to serve our country honorably.
“For his decades of service to this country, for his unwavering support for Israel, and his long opposition to the Ayatollah in Iran, and his long list of policy achievements, I believe I speak for all of us here in this Chamber and all of us in the House when I say: thank you, sir. Thank you for your service.
“It has been an honor.
“I hope it will be a role model for future committees and chairmen and ranking members as to how to work together to get good things done for the American people, because that’s what most Americans care about.
“They don’t care about our political stripes. They want to know, ‘what are you doing for the American people?’ and we have shown and led by example.
“It’s going to be hard for me to watch you, Mr. Chairman, leave this chamber. You are my favorite Chairman. But there’s so much to celebrate with your time in Congress and the legacy that you will leave behind.
“So, from the bottom of my heart, to my dear friend, Chairman Engel, and to your wonderful wife, Pat, whom I have gotten to know over the years, who is a beautiful, precious woman, let me just say that both of you will be truly missed.
“We will miss you, but we know you’re not going to be far away, and we know that you will be there in the future. And I look forward to working with you in your future position, which we discussed over dinner last Saturday night, with Ed Royce as well, your other dear friend, who has [my] utmost respect.
“I would say this. Sometimes you have respect for chairmen because you fear them. We have respect for you because we admire you – because you’re an honest, decent man, and you’re a true leader. And you lead by example, and people want to follow a good man like that.
“You’re a good man, Mr. Chairman. And [it] has really been a great experience, the time we’ve had together.
“With that, I reserve the balance of my time.”