Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks Recognizing The Office Of The Senate Legislative Counsel For Their Work On The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

August 8, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the office of the Senate Legislative Counsel and thanked them for their indispensable work on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

As the Senate approaches final passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, I want to shine a spotlight on a part of the legislative process that doesn’t see the light often enough: the Office of the Senate Legislative Counsel.

There’s an old political yarn that the legislative process is like watching sausage get made: you’d rather not know.

Well, the Office of the Legislative Counsel occupies a particularly difficult part of the sausage-making: turning Senators’ broad outlines for legislation into specific and precise legislative language. It’s a very hard job.

For over a century, this group of hidden experts have had a hand in crafting every major piece of legislation introduced in this chamber. A century ago, many scoffed at the notion of having a team of professionals help the Senate write legislation.

It was actually a New Yorker, Elihu Root, who originally suggested in 1912 that, maybe, this body could use a little help in constructing well-written laws. It took a few years after he made his plea, but the complexity of tax legislation to raise revenue during World War I led to the creation of the original drafting service.

During its first four years, the Legislative Drafting Service handled 518 requests. By the 114th Congress, however, they were receiving more than 65,000. It’s an amazing workload: unglamorous but vitally essential.

Over the past few weeks as we have worked on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the members of the Legislative Counsel have sacrificed weekends, family gatherings, and many, many hours of sleep to allow the Senate to do its work. I've seen it. We've called them up at 11:00 P.M. and said, you're needed to get this ready by the morning, and they don't flinch. They just roll up their sleeves and work in their professional way. So we’ve always asked a lot of the Legislative Counsel. But they stepped up and did their job with excellence.

There are a lot of members of the team who deserve recognition, beginning with the team’s laudable and impressive leader on this bill, Deanna Edwards.

I also want to thank Diane Nesmeyer and her team of assistants, who have all contributed very long hours, and let me mention them. They each deserve their own acknowledgement: Heather Burnham, Mark Mazzone, Christina Kennelly, Chris Patterson, Patrick Ryan, Karson Katz, Heather Lowell, Matt McGhie, John Goetcheus, Ruth Ernst, Mark McGunagle, Allison Otto, Vince Gaiani, Phil Lynch, John Henderson, James Ollen Smith, Kim Albrecht-Taylor, Christine Miranda, Rob Silver, Evan Frank, and Molly Dunlop.

To every single person I mentioned: thank you, thank you, thank you for your incredible and indispensable work. Your skill and dedication makes it possible for this chamber to serve the American public.