Schumer Floor Remarks On The Passing Of President George H.W. Bush And Giles Perkins Of Alabama

December 3, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the passing of President George H.W. Bush and Giles Perkins of Alabama.  Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Madam President, in a short time, we’ll all gather before proceeding to the rotunda to honor the life of George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States, who passed away last Friday.

George H.W. Bush will be greatly missed in many ways. He was undeniably dedicated to his country, from his time as a young Navy pilot through his long career in public service, both elective and appointed offices, as our Ambassador to the United Nations, our Envoy to China, and Director of Central Intelligence. In a life that spanned ten decades, seven decades of George H.W. Bush’s life was spent in faithful, and humble, service to his country.

Though our careers intersected only briefly, I knew him to be a fine man, a decent man, and even when he opposed your views, you knew he was doing what he thought was best for America.

He embodied the characteristics we admire in a president: integrity, civility, dignity, humility, and a sincere interest in bipartisanship. He valued public service and had respect for government as a noble force – a force for good.

When he wanted to say something to someone, he’d sit down to write them a handwritten and usually heartfelt note.  He used the word “friend” often, and when he said it, he meant it. His yearning for a kinder, gentler nation seems more needed now than when he first called for it.

Not all of his efforts will be celebrated, and of course, that’s true of every politician who has reached high office. But as we look back at his life and career, it is clear that George H.W. Bush cared deeply about more than just his country and its ideals, he cared deeply about its citizens, no matter their station. His early involvement in the YMCA, his advocacy for the Americans with Disabilities Act, and his support for volunteerism and service throughout his career are a testament to that fact.

He called on Americans to be a thousand points of light, and he was too modest to say that he and his wife Barbara were two of the brightest.

Our hearts are with the Bush family today.

And Madam President, my heart is also heavy today at the news of another loss: Giles Perkins, who was one of the top lawyers in Birmingham, Alabama and former head of the Alabama Democratic Party. He died of cancer over the weekend. He was a close friend and mentor of one of our friends here in the Senate, Senator Doug Jones, who fondly called him the “Yoda” of his campaign. I talked to Giles frequently. In fact, just a few days ago. And he was always filled with the desire to do good, a desire that the right thing be done, and a desire to help his friends; Senator Doug Jones at the top of the list. Giles was a booster of many things Alabama, and he will be sorely missed by his family, his dear friend the Junior Senator from Alabama, the state he loved, and by me.