- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 4, 2014

Retiring Rep. Buck McKeon gave a tearful farewell to Congress Thursday ahead of a vote on his final annual defense bill as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

“I did not want to give this speech, not because I have any regrets, I just have this problem,” he said. “Thankfully the Speaker has it a lot worse than I do and he gets all the attention, but I have the same problem.”

Speaker John A. Boehner has made news for tearing up several times in the past, including once recently while reflecting on his humble beginnings mopping floors in his father’s bar.

Mr. McKeon, California Republican, said he hopes Congress will be able to pass a compromise next year that will end across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. When it comes time for lawmakers to make that tough vote, Mr. McKeon’s advice is to “remember the great sacrifice that our troops and their families and loved ones at home are making around the world.”

“They never failed us, not once, so shame on us if we’re unwilling to pay back the debt we owe them,” he said.

Mr. McKeon also praised his staff and said that while many think federal workers may not get much done, those who’ve worked for him have spent countless hours of hard work to help constituents in the California Republican’s district.

“I’ve gotten to know many of you as friends, many of you as family,” he said. “You’re professionals, you’re tireless, but I just think of you as the best.”

Mr. McKeon choked up as he spoke about his wife of 52 years and how he’s eager to spend more time with his six children, 30 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

“I think I’d like to teach some of my grand children how to fish if somebody will teach me how to fish,” he said.

Mr. McKeon, who has served in Congress for 22 years, finished his final floor speech with an Irish blessing and yielded back his time to a round of applause.

Lawmakers have passed the key defense bill for the past 53 years consecutively. The fiscal 2015 bill will be the final one for both Mr. McKeon and Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, his counterpart in the Senate who is retiring this year as well.

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