Skip to main content /TRANSCRIPTS


Rep. Armey Announces Retirement

Aired December 12, 2001 - 10:27   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Live from Capitol Hill, on the floor, the House majority leader, Dick Armey, in what is anticipated to be his retirement speech, from Congress.


REP. RICHARD ARMEY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: How very privileged I am to have been given that trust, that responsibility and the opportunity to serve the values I share with these good people -- faith, freedom, safety, security and peace, in that order.

Mr. Speaker, I have come to love this place. This is the most marvelous democratic institution in the history of the world. You see, my friends, it is true what we say about this wonderful House Chamber, here the people govern. We are the House of Representatives. It's more than a place, it is we the people working each in our own to secure the blessing of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

And in my time here, we have managed to secure many blessings of liberty. We have been the instruments of the American people during a special period when America led the world in a freedom revolution. As a lesson in how freedom works, we whipped stagflation and set a course of economic prosperity and growth unparalleled in the history of the world.

America halted the march of communism in our hemisphere. We inspired the demise of its tyranny in Eastern Europe. The Cold War ended on our terms. The Soviet Union collapsed. The Berlin Wall fell. We won the Gulf War. And as we speak, we are removing the scourge of terrorism from the globe.

Peace through strength and supply-side economics changed this world for the better. Because the American people champion liberty, more people in the world live free today than at any time in the world's history. Yet there is more to be done, and it is America who will lead the way.

Mr. Speaker, that marvelous creativity known as practical American genius led us through the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution. It now leads us through the electronic revolution. Once again, we see new marvels driving from the American creativity and hard work.

Today, we see a renewal of faith in God that lifts the hearts of everyone in America. There's a renewal of patriotism that vindicates the faith of our fathers and the sacrifices of our heroes. America is a good nation, where blessings endure and difficulties pass.

The American people deserve a government that knows their goodness and has the decency to respect it. It is up to us to be that government, and I have complete confidence that we will continue to be just that.

Because of this confidence, I am comfortable telling you today that the end of this 107th Congress is the time for me to stand down as majority leader and as member of Congress, to take my leave of this place and the people I love so much, and to return home to my beloved 26th District of Texas, and more important to my beloved wife and family.

Mr. Speaker, I am sad to say what we all know is true: Too often our service to our nation is a disservice to our family. To our spouses, our years of service seemed to be an unbroken string of broken promises and disappointments. Our husbands and wives are too often excluded from what we do. They live a life of hardship that is rarely supposed and even less understood. It's as if they were single parents. You all know what I mean; we all have our own heartbreaking chapter and verse. Bless our hearts, and even more, bless our spouses' hearts.

But, Mr. Speaker, here's the good news. Throughout all the difficulties that only we who serve here can understand, I have kept the love of a good woman.


And, Mr. Speaker, I have kept my love for her, just as it was on the day we were wed; just as she's always been, my darling wife, Susan, is here with me today from our home in Texas.

And, honey, I want to thank you for all your years of sacrifice.


And, honey, you get to keep this house, we're not moving again.


Mr. Speaker, let me just mention our children, Kathy (ph) and Brandon (ph), David and Laurie (ph), Chip (ph) and Christine (ph), Scott and Carissa (ph), and Scott and Pam. They've given us our beautiful grandchildren, Avery (ph), Christian (ph), Christopher (ph), and Jacob. I very much look forward to making up for lost time with them, just as with my wonderful mother-in-law, Aileen (ph), our beautiful sister, Betsy (ph), and her darling little Ryan (ph).

Mr. Speaker, while this is a sad announcement for me, I am consoled by the fact that I have one more year -- one more year -- in the leadership of this body. I'm looking forward to that being the best year ever. We are just completing an outstanding legislative year, and we will do even more next year. I don't intend to miss a minute of it.

Mr. Speaker, my first lesson in politics was good policy makes good politics. I believe that, and I believe this majority makes good policy. That's why, Mr. Speaker, the American people elected us to this majority, and that's why I know they will do it again in the next Congress, and I don't have a doubt about it.


I can complete my work next year knowing the House will remain in good hands. And, Mr. Speaker, may I say in that regard to you, personally -- to you, personally, Mr. Speaker, thank you for answering your nation's call to duty.


Mr. Speaker, you are, in my life's experience, more than anybody else I have ever known, the right man to step up, provide the right leadership at the right time for all the right reasons. And I thank you. May God bless you.


I might add, Mr. Speaker, that you have made it possible for me to know I've got the best job in this town, and I'm going to do it with all my energy for another year.

The good people of Texas have made it possible for me to work with the finest people in the world, the members of the United States House of Representatives on both sides of the aisle.

To my friends on the other side of the aisle, we have many good contests. We are sometimes together, but we are more often in opposition, but we always represent what we believe. Thank you, my friends. You are constant, consistent and reliable.



You know, despite the often too bitter contests we have, I cherish the fact that, when our country needed us to come together, we stood on the steps of this Capitol and, hand-to-hand, we sang "God Bless America."


It's that feeling of unity, not the heated exchanges, that I will remember most fondly when I leave here.

To my Republican colleagues, we should be proud of what we've done in our young majority. Twice now, we have lowered taxes, a tax burden on America's working families and left them more in charge over their own hard earned money. We reformed a failed welfare system in a way that has saved families. We honor the American's people prosperity by our spending restraint. And we turned government deficits into hard won surpluses and we must hold that.

We will hold those surpluses by restoring economic growth through supply-side tax cuts. And that is why we cannot leave here without an economic stimulus package.


My colleagues and my friends, my appreciation for you has only been made greater because, in the past few years, I've had the privilege of visiting nearly every congressional district in America. I'm looking forward to returning to about 100 more next year.

But for now, my friends, let us finish our work and go home.

Let me conclude by saying, I wish you all, all of you and all your hard-working staffs and all the wonderful people that make this great organization work, and the security and the police, let me wish you all a happy holiday season, whether it's the celebration of Hanukkah, or for me, Christmas, the birthday of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I just hope this is a happy and joyous occasion. It will be for me and my family. It will be for America, and it should be in all our lives.

Thank you and God bless you and God bless America.

HEMMER: The end of era, soon to be, for Dick Armey, the House majority leader, his speech of retirement given there on the House floor. Nine terms in all. It will be 18 years total at the end of '02, the end of next year, when his service to the 26th District in Texas will conclude.

He says there's good news and bad news, and the good is, he says, he can spend more time with his wife and family, of whom he says, quote, "I have kept the love of a good woman."

One more year, he says, looking forward to the best year ever.

Certainly, there will be a leadership scramble from here on out.

Kate Snow, on Capitol Hill, listening along, as well -- Kate.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He has been in the House 18 years at end of his term next year. Mr. Armey is talking about the American people deserving a government that knows their goodness and has the decency to respect it. It's up to us to be that government. I have complete confidence we will continue to do that. But then he said, But not with me. Because of his confidence, I'm comfortable telling you that at the end of this Congress, he will be stepping down.

It was a very personal speech. You heard him speak a lot about his family, about his wife and children and grandchildren.

He praised Republicans. He also had a kind work for Democrats.

Mr. Armey is 61 years old. He is married; he has five children. He has been in the House now, as we said, 17 years, first elected in '84 as a professor of economics at that time.

Here's what he's done. In the '80s, he was known for helping come up with a plan to close obsolete military bases. In 1994, he was instrumental in pushing what was called the contract with America, a conservative manifesto outlining legislation and priorities. And then, he took over that year as House majority leader and has been ever since.

He is still working hard. He is working right now on trying to get an economic stimulus plan through this Congress and plans to continue doing that.

As for who will succeed him, we do know that Tom DeLay, the House majority whip, and also a Republican from Texas, plans on seeking that seat of majority leader. That opens up his position as well. That creates quite a contest here over the next year. We'll see a lot of vying for those two positions. Several Republicans have already expressed a little bit of limited interest. I think now that we have heard from Dick Armey, we'll hear a lot of public statements about who is going to run for those positions.

Back to you.

HEMMER: He also mentioned that economic stimulus package. There is some give in both corners. We will see where that goes in the coming days.

Kate, thanks. Kate Snow, in Washington.




Back to the top