Mr. President, I rise to give my final speech on the Senate floor with a heart of gratitude. Serving and fighting for Arizona as a U.S. Senator has been the opportunity of a lifetime.
Many times in the last two years, I had to pinch myself that this middle class veteran became one of only 1,984 Americans to serve in the U.S. Senate and only 677 to serve in both chambers of Congress since our nation was formed.
Like most Americans, on my life journey I have overcome adversity which could have crushed me, but by the grace of God instead gave me a purpose to fight for others. When I was just 12 years old, my dad died unexpectedly of a heart attack. I learned at that early age to treat each day of this life as a gift. I was reminded of that lesson again this year when my 58-year old brother Martin passed away. Though it wasn’t from COVID, this type of deep grief—unexpectedly losing a family member--is one too many of us have faced in 2020. We’ve been reminded, once again, that every moment, every day, each chapter of our lives, is truly a gift.
As it has been for most chapters of my life, I didn’t come here in a traditional or easy way. I want to first thank Governor Doug Ducey for the blessing to serve the great state of Arizona, especially during these times of unprecedented challenges.
Accepting the governor’s appointment to be a member of the world’s most prestigious and powerful governing body was…like most missions in my life…a high-risk, high-purpose endeavor. Becoming a U.S. Senator was the ultimate expression of one of my life principles: do things afraid. I took on the mission with eyes wide open, gave it my all, and left it all on the field in my fight for the Grand Canyon State.
When I gave my maiden speech on this floor, I shared my approach to service, which was forged through 26 years in uniform: Honor your oath, live up to your calling, don’t walk by a problem, and to paraphrase renowned fighter pilot John Boyd: choose to “do something” instead of trying to “be somebody.”
As I make the trip back home from DC to Arizona for the last time…and close out this 9-year chapter of my life…I do so with gratitude, with joy, with no regrets. And with the pride of having represented the most optimistic, resilient, and gritty people on the face of the earth.
While my name is on the door of our office here, this has always been a team effort. None of what we achieved would have been possible without an exceptionally talented, selfless, and committed staff. I am so thankful for my team of professionals in D.C. and Arizona who truly embody our core values of Integrity, Service, Excellence, Teamwork, and a Make it Happen mindset.
I especially want to thank those who have been with me for all 6 years of my time in the House and Senate: my chief of staff, Justin Roth, who I trust completely as my closest wingman to lead our amazing team through thick and thin; my legislative director, Pace McMullan, who drove our legislative success and embodies the young, brilliant talent making a difference on the Hill; my deputy state director, CJ Karamargin, who took a risk to join our team first in the House and built strong relationships across Southern Arizona; and Rosa Ruiz who has been a tireless caseworker to help so many Arizonans left behind by federal agencies. They welcomed our larger team in the Senate to serve the whole state.
Of that incredible group, I want to recognize my deputy chief of staff and state director, Tanya Wheeless, who brought a wealth of experience, maturity and relationships to lead and mentor our Arizona team. And Alana Wilson, my director of scheduling, really director of everything, who has extraordinary capacity and maturity beyond her years and I absolutely could not function without her on so many levels.
This institution could not operate…and the people of all 50 states would not be served…without the intelligent, hard-charging, often young, men and women who choose to work on the Hill in staff positions. They don’t do it for the pay and could make much more working fewer hours in other fields. But they choose these behind the scenes, unglamorous jobs to be a part of keeping our constitutional republic strong. I am so proud and thankful for Team McSally and the profound and lasting impact they made for others.
Together as a team, we intervened on behalf of over 7800 Arizonans who were getting the run around from federal bureaucracies, in the last two years alone. We secured nearly $7M of benefits they deserved. To my fellow Arizonans: It was an honor to be your voice and fighter on your behalf.
We crafted a legislative agenda that fought for freedom, opportunity, and security for Americans and Arizonans, the very principles for which I and my fellow veterans put our lives on the line. We played a key role in creating a strong economy so everyone has the opportunity to realize the American dream, rebuilding our military, standing up to China, securing our border, and transforming the judiciary back to its constitutional role for generations to come. This includes the historic opportunity to confirm a pioneering Justice, Amy Coney Barrett, to the Supreme Court.
We worked together in this chamber to quickly deliver relief during this first in a century pandemic, saving lives, jobs, and small businesses. Thanks to President Trump, Vice President Pence, Majority Leader McConnell and all my colleagues who demonstrated leadership and commitment to these important missions.
We saved the mighty A-10 Warthog from being mothballed—again. I stood in the gap to ensure due process for a brilliant senior military leader to continue to serve our nation.
And I told the whole world in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that, as a fighter pilot, retired Colonel and U.S. Senator, I too am a survivor of sexual assault. My path of healing…of finding my voice and strength to not be held down or held back…was not easy, but I can truly say like Joseph in the Old Testament: “What others intended for evil, God used for good.” I am grateful to God for giving me the courage to tell my story. And I am blessed to be a Senator not only to lead on reforms that were signed into law, but also to use my platform to be an example of hope and healing for other survivors.
During my time serving in the Air Force, I developed a common-sense approach to solving problems that I took with me when I deployed to D.C. This approach, despite the division, obstruction and dysfunction here in Congress, drove me to tirelessly seek common ground--to find pragmatic solutions that make a real, tangible difference in people’s lives. We know where we disagree--the lines are bright. But I am proud to say my team always looked for where the Venn diagram overlapped to solve problems and get something accomplished. And it worked. We tied for the most bills signed into law in my first year in the Senate. I am proud that I’ll leave this body ranked as the 6th most bipartisan Senator-- because I joined with many in this chamber, on both sides of the aisle, to find common ground for the common good.
As one of the few combat veterans in the Senate, I was uniquely honored to fight for our military heroes, their families, and veterans. Too often our men and women in uniform come home with the invisible wounds of war. The legislation that my team and I crafted and successfully got across the finish line gives them the lifesaving treatment they earned and deserve—allowing them to heal and reach their full, God-given potential. Those who sacrifice life and limb for this country…who bear the scars of battle, both seen and unseen…who ran toward the sound of the guns in God-forsaken lands: these are the heroes we can never forget, and to whom we owe a profound debt. My deepest hope is that the work we did to fight for our veterans is a cornerstone of the legacy we leave here in the Senate.
Over these last few years, I met so many inspiring Arizonans as I traveled through all 15 counties and engaged with people from myriad backgrounds and experiences. It was an honor of a lifetime to meet 4 Navajo Code Talkers when attending national Code Talker Day on the Navajo Nation. To visit with WW2 vets like George Cross while participating in the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy. To connect with and encourage Arizona sailors patrolling the Straits of Hormuz during heightened tensions with Iran. To secure, then pin on an overdue purple heart on Iraq war veteran Michael Letcher. To tour the border with the Ladd family and other ranchers, hard-working patriotic people who I never would have met had I not served in Congress.
Over the last several challenging months, I have been so inspired and proud to witness Arizonans stepping up to help each other get through this pandemic. Our small business owners and universities found innovative ways to make PPE for our frontline health care heroes. We delivered meals to doctors and nurses with church congregations, and packed up food boxes with the national guard at local food banks.
Even in the midst of such unprecedented challenges, I—like many other Arizonans—took in the beauty of our great landscapes by hiking sections of the Arizona trail. On a day-long trek to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back with a dear friend, we were joined for part of the hike by the park’s new superintendent. We saw first-hand the benefits that the Great American Outdoors Act would bring to this national treasure and crowning jewel of our state—legislation we championed in this very room.
I also went on ride-alongs with border patrol and local law enforcement to experience the challenges they face keeping our communities safe and learn how to best support these heroes. I will miss these life-changing opportunities, but will always carry with me the time I had and lessons I learned from Arizona’s amazing unsung heroes.
As we approach the end of a year that has tested our country, I look forward to spending time, as I do every year, in prayer, thought, and writing for the year ahead. Sometimes I feel the Lord presses a few words on my heart…words that are important to keep strong and guide my spirit for the year. At the end of last year, three words stuck out during my time of reflection for 2020. I put these words on sticky notes on my bathroom mirror to serve as daily reminders: Peace, Joy, and Gratitude.
In the most difficult year in modern memory, I have known “a peace that surpasses all understanding”…a joy that can only come from a loving Creator…and a gratitude that even on the most difficult days, an almighty God put me on this earth, and in this chamber, to stand in the breach during this moment in our nation’s history.
Standing up for what’s right during challenging times is the founding ethos of our great country. Early in time in the military, a mentor pointed me to the book of Esther for guidance as I navigated whether to risk my career to stand up for what was right. I’ve carried the lesson of Esther 4:14 as my life scripture ever since: “Can it be that you were put in this position for such a time as this.”
I was honored to serve with each of you in this chamber, “for such a time as this.”
We experience this gift of life in seasons. And while this season is one filled tumult and challenges, I know we will get through it as Americans always do--together.
When I was appointed to the Senate, I thought of this season and decided, “If this is the last two years of my life, I want to make it count for others.” Today represents a change in seasons for me and I don’t have clarity yet on what my next mission will be. But I do know who is the author and finisher of my faith. And that He created each of us with purpose.
We live up to that purpose, when we live, as John McCain exhorted us to, “for causes greater than oneself.”
This mentality was encapsulated by Teddy Roosevelt in a famous speech more than one hundred years ago…one I trust we all know well. I came across his “man in the arena” passage when I was just a teenage cadet at the Air Force Academy, and it spoke to my purpose-driven spirit. So, I cut it out and put it on my bulletin board. The same yellowed, torn paper is on my refrigerator today…more than 30 years later.
We can truly say in this short season that we were daring in all we did to advance worthy causes – and our place shall never be with those timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
It has been a true honor, Arizona. We are an extraordinary state with extraordinary people. I know our future is blessed and bright just like our state motto: Ditat Deus…God enriches. I have been enriched by the privilege to fight for you and serve you these past six years. I wish my successor Mark Kelly all the best as he represents our incredible state in this hallowed chamber.
Let me close with the words of the Apostle Paul, which I hope and pray will be said about my life in my final days. He wrote: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
May God continue to bless America and Arizona. May we all finish the race, and keep the faith. Mr. President, I yield the floor for the final time.
Sen. McSally began serving in the Senate in January of 2019. Gov. Doug Ducey, (R-Ariz.), appointed her to fill Sen. John McCain's seat until a special election could be held. McSally lost her bid to keep the seat to Democrat Mark Kelly.
The Senator previously served four-years in the U.S. House of Representatives. McSally is also the first woman to fly combat missions for the United States Air Force. No word yet on her plans after leaving the Senate.