U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) today delivered the first of what he said would be “a number of speeches over the course of the next couple of weeks to comment on various matters” he has worked on in the Senate.
“There are great decisions ahead that will shape the course and character of America in the 21st century,” Nelson said. “Whether an institution such as this congress will be effective in the future is whether the people that make up this institution can get along.”
Nelson said he will continue to fight for what’s right and will encourage his colleagues to seek common ground.
“We will retreat from the tribalism that has captured American politics,” Nelson said, “where men and women of goodwill can come together, as the good book says: ‘Come, let us reason together.’”
Following is a rush transcript of Nelson’s remarks, and here’s a link to watch video of his speech.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson
Remarks on the Senate Floor
November 26, 2018
Sen. Nelson: Madam president, I intend to be giving a number of speeches over the course of the next couple of weeks to comment on various matters that I have had the privilege of working on.
And I want to say that with regard to the election, well, things turned out a little differently than Grace and I had expected.
But let me say I have been very, very blessed, and that’s because I’ve had the privilege of serving the people of Florida and our country for most of my life.
And I don’t think anyone could have been more honored by having a lifetime of public service. I was not victorious in this race, but I still wish to strongly reaffirm the cause for which we fought. A public office is a public trust.
First, I want to say thanks to all who have rallied to our cause both here in the senate and in Florida.
You knocked on the doors, you walked the precincts, you made the phone calls, you contributed your time and your resources. And with an optimistic heart, I wish to say something else. We may have been heavily outspent, but we were never outworked. To all Floridians, I say to you, whether you voted for me or for my opponent or you didn’t vote at all, I ask that you never give up this fight that a public office is a public trust.
And there are a lot of other things that fall under that category of public trust. You must fight to protect the fundamental right to health care and against any attempt to roll back our progress on things like preexisting conditions. Most everybody has a preexisting condition. If it’s not required that an insurance company cover you, then either your rate is prohibitively high or else you don’t get coverage at all. And out of 20 million people in the state of Florida, 8 million people have a preexisting condition.
And you must continue the fight to preserve the natural wonders of our state, from the everglades to the pine forest, to the beaches and the offshore waters. Say no to drilling off our coast, not one rig off of our coastline not only for the sake of our environment, the sake of our tourism economy and for the sake of the largest military testing and training area for the United States military in the world right off of our coast.
And as a country, we need to continue to launch rockets and to explore the heavens. I have seen the blue brilliance of the Earth from the edge of the heavens, and I will fight on to save this planet, our homes, and our cities from the spreading plague of greenhouse gases that infect our atmosphere and play havoc with our weather and risk the planet, our children and grandchildren will inherit.
Every single one of us needs to keep fighting to strengthen social security and Medicare for generations that are yet to come. It’s your Medicare. It’s your social security. You pay into these programs. They belong to you and not to the politicians who are plotting to rob you of your retirement.
I will continue to fight on and on for the inalienable human rights that are the soul and glory of the American experiment. Civil rights, women’s rights, lgbt rights and the sacred right to vote. We must end all forms of voter suppression, make it easier for Americans to vote and honor the ideal that we are governed by the majority and not by minority rule.
There are great decisions ahead that will shape the course and character of America in the 21st century.
Yes, I will continue to fight and to fight hard for what’s right, and I will also encourage others to seek common ground with their colleagues and the other side of the aisle. Inevitably at times that effort will fall short, but we have to try. We have to move beyond a politics that aims not just to defeat but to destroy, where truth is treated as disposable, where falsehoods abound, and the free press is assaulted as the enemy of the people.
Whether an institution such as this congress will be effective in the future is whether the people that make up this institution can get along. Well, we will retreat from the tribalism that has captured American politics, where men and women of goodwill can come together as the good book says, come, let us reason together.
There’s been a gathering darkness in our politics in recent years. My hope today can be found in the words of John F. Kennedy, who said civility can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future. Thank you all for the privilege of a lifetime of public service. God bless you and god bless our country.
Madam president, I yield the floor.