House Speaker Paul Ryan gave his final farewell address today at the Library of Congress. Speaker Ryan has served as the Representative from Wisconsin’s 1st District since 1999. In his twenty years of service he has served as Chairman of the House Budget Committee, House Ways and Means Committee, and most recently as the 54th Speaker of the House.
Throughout the last several weeks, Speaker Ryan has reflected on his time in Washington; from the time he was an intern in the mailroom to holding the third most powerful position in the country, as Speaker of the House. On November 29th, during his farewell address on the House floor, Speaker Ryan thanked the constituents of his District for their support when he decided to take on more responsibilities:
Since becoming Speaker of the House, which is not something we’re used to in Wisconsin (I’m the only one who has done that), I appreciate the indulgence of the people who I work for. Who indulged the fact that I had other responsibilities. When I took on these additional responsibilit[ies], the people of our staff really stepped up and really helped serve our constituents so they could continue to enjoy those flawless constituent services.
He continued by saying that he preferred to call his constituents his "employers":
It’s the way I’ve always thought of this and I think it’s important that we as members understand that we work for the people, not the other way around. That we are in this to make a difference for them. We work every day to keep that obligation.
Lastly, Speaker Ryan thanked his staff:
[A]ny success that we have had is really, in my case, due to our humble and our hard working staff.
Today, during his final farewell address, Speaker Ryan thanked his colleagues, the President and Vice President, his mentors, his family, and many others. He also spoke about the many achievements of Congress and the great lasting impact that will be felt by current and future generations, stating:
We have taken on some of the biggest challenges of our time, and made a great and lasting difference in the trajectory of this country. Certainly one Congress cannot solve all that ails us. Not every outcome has been perfect. But that is our great system at work. And I am proud of what we have achieved together to make this a stronger and more prosperous country.
One of these many achievements is the overhaul of the tax system that was passed and signed by President Trump late last year. In his address he stated that, "our problems are solvable if our politics will allow it"; specifying solving the challenges of: poverty, entitlements, and immigration, stating that:
Again, we came closer in this Congress than people realize. . . . Getting this right is an economic and moral imperative. And it would go a long way toward taking some of the venom out of our discourse. If we do these three things—make progress on poverty, fix our immigration system, confront this debt crisis—we can make this another great century for our country.
Lastly, Speaker Ryan challenged and gave advise to the new (and old) members of Congress:
This place is full of wonders and opportunity. But do your best to stay grounded. The way I think of this is, either you change things or they change you. So you have to keep your sense of self. Work hard at staying who you are. Insist on it. It is what I have prayed about every morning since I first came here. To keep my sense of self. . . . Still, never forget the excitement that brought you here.
Thank you, Speaker Paul Ryan, for your service! His final farewell address transcript is available here and video is available here.