December 18, 2014

Johanns: I’m honored to have served as the Senator from Nebraska (AUDIO)

Sen. Mike Johanns/Photo courtesy of Johanns' office

Sen. Mike Johanns/Photo courtesy of Johanns’ office

Sen. Mike Johanns bid farewell to the United States Senate by acknowledging a “deep and sincere” appreciation for the people of Nebraska.

“They’ve entrusted me with the high privilege and the solemn responsibility of representing them in this body,” Johanns said to open his farewell address from the floor of the Senate in Washington. “I’m honored to have served as the Senator from Nebraska and I hope and I pray that I have done so in a manner that upholds the high standards that Nebraskans have rightly established for their elected officeholders.”

Johanns paid tribute to ordinary Nebraskans who have done extraordinary things during his farewell speech. Johanns said he has met heads of state, religious leaders, and celebrities during his time in office, but has been most touched by the actions of every day citizens; noting in particular two men who pulled children from a burning school bus in Blue Hill in 2012 and Pilger City Clerk who tended to the needs of the town’s residents in wake of the devastating tornado there this year.

Johanns also honored the parents of service men and women who died in uniform.

“I would call them to offer my condolences,” Johanns said, growing emotional. “And I have found their strength to be so astounding. To a person, they speak with such passion about love of country, pride in their loved one’s service, despite sorrow.”

Johanns said he knows he leaves even as some battles remain.

“I would be dishonest, Madam President, if I denied some feelings of frustration about the absence of will to address issues of paramount importance to our country,” Johanns stated. “But I know that no issue is powerful enough to shred the fabric of this great nation.”

Johanns decided against running for re-election and will leave public office after the term ends. Fellow Republican, Ben Sasse, will succeed him when sworn in next month.

AUDIO:  Sen. Mike Johanns bids farewell to the U.S. Senate. Sen. Deb Fischer pays tribute to Johanns from Senate floor. [18:30]

Work on energy issues define Lee Terry’s career (AUDIO)

Congressman Lee Terry (right) talks with a constituent

Congressman Lee Terry (right) talks with a constituent

Nebraska says good-bye to a veteran member of its Congressional delegation at the beginning of next year.

University of Nebraska at Omaha Political Science Department Chairman Randall Adkins says Congressman Lee Terry’s work on energy issues define his eight terms in office.

“I know that he’s played a big role in the Energy and Commerce Committee and chaired one of the sub-committees,” Adkins tells Nebraska Radio Network. “So, I think that’s probably what, in the long run, people will remember him for.”

Terry became a very vocal proponent of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, arguing that the nation could use the jobs it would produce and the energy security its crude would carry.

State Sen. Brad Ashford defeated Terry in the General Election, receiving nearly 49% of the vote. Terry won 46% of the vote. A third candidate, Libertarian Steve Laird, won a little more than 5% of the vote.

Terry was one of only two incumbent Republican Congressmen to lose their re-election bid in 2014, a year that tilted decidedly Republican.

Adkins speculates that Democrats saw Terry as vulnerable after the eight-term Congressman survived narrow re-election victories during the last two election cycles. Adkins says the national Democratic Party got behind Ashford, giving the challenger plenty of money and spending money independently in the race.

Fellow Republican, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, says Terry will be missed.

“Lee Terry is an old friend and I am very grateful for his relationship that we’ve had,” Fortenberry tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Agreeing is Republican Congressman Adrian Smith.

“I’m disappointed that Lee lost. He has been a colleague who’s been great to work with,” according to Smith, who says Terry helped him tremendously when he first won election to Congress.

With the win, Ashford broke the stranglehold Republicans had on the Nebraska Congressional delegation and while Fortenberry and Smith expressed disappointment Terry lost, both pledge to work with Ashford on issues important to Nebraska.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Nebraska Congressman says voters want Washington to work (AUDIO)

Congressman Adrian Smith speaks with constituents

Congressman Adrian Smith speaks with constituents

Americans shook up Washington during the elections across the country and one Nebraska Congressman says voters expressed frustration with Washington at the ballot box.

Congressman Adrian Smith sees the election as not necessarily an endorsement of the Republican Party, but a desire by voters that Washington pursue a different direction.

That different direction just might be a return to regular order.

Smith complains that the House approved hundreds of pieces of legislation only to see them die in the Senate. Some of the legislation in the Republican-controlled House carried a very partisan message and had no chance in the Senate, controlled by Democrats. Yet, Smith is quick to add that even legislation with bipartisan support languished once it moved across the Capitol to the Senate.

Whether Washington will function again under the new Congress, now firmly in Republican control, remains to be seen.

Smith says President Barack Obama might have increased the difficulty when he by-passed Congress and the normal legislative process to sign an executive order exempting up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation.

“This amnesty from the president by executive order I think really undermines this process,” Smith tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Smith says he has concerns about whether the president violated the Constitution with his unilateral action. It certainly hasn’t been given a warm reception by Republicans, angered that shortly after an election seen as a referendum on the president’s policies Obama defied Congress on immigration policy.

With Republicans gaining seats in the House and taking control of the Senate, Smith hopes President Obama doesn’t dismiss Republican ideas.

“He has been very dismissive of the issues of concern to Republicans over the last six years.”

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:40]

Sen. Fischer looks forward to move into majority (AUDIO)

Sen. Deb Fischer talks with the media

Sen. Deb Fischer talks with the media

Sen. Deb Fischer looks forward to serving in the majority in the United States Senate next year.

Fischer has served for two years in the minority, chafing under a Democratic leader not friendly to Republican input.

Fischer, a Republican, says voters spoke loudly in 2014 against such tactics.

“I think people want to see action. They want to see the Senate and the federal government get some things done,” Fischer says.

Fischer, as well as Sen. Mike Johanns, complained often about the leadership of Majority Leader, Democrat Harry Ried, a Senator from Nevada. Both claim Reid blocked debate on legislation, not allowing bills to come to the Senate floor that he thought might prove harmful to Democrats at the polls.

The 2014 General Election flipped control of the Senate, giving it to Republicans who have chosen Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell as the new Majority Leader.

Fischer expects McConnell to return the Senate to its traditional business activity with committees approving and passing legislation onto the floor for debate and amendment.

Sen. Johanns leaves the Senate at the end of the year. Ben Sasse, also a Republican, will be sworn in when the new Congress convenes.

Nebraska will be served in the United States Senate with the least experience of any delegation. Fischer has served for only two years. Sasse is a rookie.

Still, Fischer says Nebraskans shouldn’t be ill at ease about such inexperience.

“Nebraskans I don’t think have anything to fear about the delegation and the work that we will continue to do for them.”

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

What will become of the Sasse RV?

Sasse_busI

The Sasse RV, which became a focal point of Ben Sasse’s successful US Senate campaign, now resides at a Lincoln truck sales and service lot.

United States Senator-elect Ben Sasse says the secret to his success was traveling the state.

“We had a great experience spending better than a year traveling the 93 counties and listening to Nebraskans,” Sasse, a Republican, says about his successful campaign to succeed Sen. Mike Johanns.

Sasse made his trips across Nebraska highly visible, driving the state in a RV emblazoned with his name in big, red letters.

But what happens to the RV now that the election is over?

Ben Sasse lived and worked on his RV during much of the Senate campaign

Ben Sasse lived and worked on his RV during much of the Senate campaign

“Somebody recently, in one of the other interviews, told me that they would take $5,000 from us and they would be willing to take the bus,” Sasse quips while talking to reporters. “So, I think it has a negative value. It needs some sort of pandemic detoxification.”

Despite what Sasse says, the RV now resides at a Lincoln truck sales and service lot.

The campaign won’t disclose its fate.