On June 11th, 2019, the United States Capitol Historical Society (USCHS) hosted an evening reception to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of the Committee on Finance — one of the oldest standing committees of the Senate. Current and former members and staff of the Committee, along with members of the Society enjoyed the evening’s program in the gorgeous Hart Senate Office Building penthouse.
The Capitol Police Ceremonial Unit presented the colors and Jane L. Campbell, President/CEO of the USCHS, led a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to begin the program. Ms. Campbell then offered a toast “to the Senate Finance Committee: for shaping the economic foundations of our nation; for the G.I. Bill of Rights and other programs supporting our veterans; for protecting the health and welfare of our older citizens, of children, and those with special needs; for promoting international trade; and for commitment to fiscal responsibility and economic growth; we salute the committee, its leaders, its members, and its staff.”
Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa delivered humorous remarks, noting that contrary to what his predecessor would have some people believe, “Senator [Orrin] Hatch and I were not original members of this committee.” Senator Grassley spoke highly of the history of the committee, and shared his strong connection to the USCHS through its founder, Congressman Fred Schwengel, a fellow Iowan who took him on tours when the former arrived in Congress in 1975.
Ranking Member Ron Wyden of Oregon began his remarks by opining after the excitement – or lack thereof – during the creation and passage of the Affordable Care Act with a photo of himself and former Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas that he referred to as “The Honeymooners” picture. Senator Wyden spoke about his service on the committee has inspired him; that seemingly impossible issues can be resolved when the members work together.
Former Senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma delivered the first keynote address of the evening. Following some humorous remarks about the length of Senator Hatch and Senator Grassley’s tenures as chairmen of the committee, Mr. Nickles observed that the breadth of the committee’s jurisdiction enables its members to “make history, really make history” through their service. He observed that “It’s the best committee by far, and I love to see the Finance Committee when you’re working together to get real things done.”
Former Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas delivered the second and final keynote address of the evening. After recognizing Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Wyden, and Mr. Nickles, she shared anecdotes from her transition from congressional staffer to Member of Congress. “Having been a staffer… I fell absolutely in love with the debate and the work of the committee; I felt like it was empowering to not just me, but to my constituents, to my family – I used to watch my dad come up and testify before the appropriators for the levee board districts about how much money they needed to keep the floodwaters at bay – and I just thought ‘how wonderful is that, that an American citizen can come up and testify before the committee and really tell them about what’s going on.’” Ms. Lincoln shared other memories and spoke about the other women who have served on the committee throughout its history.
In closing, Ms. Lincoln noted that “this country belongs to all of us, and we all have good ideas, and we all work hard to make a difference – and in a committee like the Senate Finance Committee, you can make that difference – and when you reach out and you work with people, it does make a difference, because you solve problems.”
C-SPAN recorded the program, which can be viewed here.
A Brief History of the Committee on Finance can be viewed here.
The event was made possible through the generous support of these donors: