At a congressional tribute service on Thursday, President Joe Biden and key legislative leaders paid respect to the late Republican Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, who was laid to rest at the United States Capitol.
“We meet here in the very heart of American democracy — the Capitol of the United States of America — to receive a hero of that democracy for a final time,” Biden said.
Dole died on Sunday after announcing in February that he was being treated for terminal lung cancer. On Thursday, Republican and Democratic officials gathered to celebrate the life and service of the lifelong congressman and veteran.
Biden, who served in the Senate with Dole for 25 years, referred to the Kansan as a “giant of our history.”
“And that’s not hyperbole,” Biden went on to say. “It’s real. Of wit and grace, of principle and persistence, of courage and conviction .”
The President used his own working relationship and friendship with Dole as an example of how lawmakers from rival parties could work together to achieve common goals.
Biden stated that he and Dole had disagreements on a number of issues “but not on any of the fundamental things. We still found a way to work together.”
Biden quoted Dole’s opinion piece in The Washington Post that published the day after his death, which reads: “I cannot pretend that I have not been a loyal champion for my party, but I always served my country best when I did so first and foremost as an American.”
“When we prioritize principles over party and humanity over personal legacy, we accomplish far more as a nation,” Dole’s op-ed stated. “By leading with a shared faith in each other, we become America at its best: a beacon of hope, a source of comfort in crisis, a shield against those who threaten freedom.”
“May we follow his wisdom and his timeless truth and reach consensus on the basic fundamental principles we all agree on,” Biden added.
The President praised Dole’s “great wit” and chuckled as he recalled the late senator’s rationale for voting.
“They once asked him why in God’s name did he vote to continue to fund Amtrak. He said because if he didn’t, Biden would stay overnight and cause more trouble. I commuted every day. True story. He was the deciding vote,” Biden said.
When Biden was in the Senate, he commuted from Wilmington, Delaware, to Washington on the Amtrak practically every day.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer all paid tribute to Dole, praising his public service and character.
“A wounded warrior who spent decades carrying fellow veterans and Americans with disabilities on his shoulders — Bob was the last of the greatest generation to run for president, but he was never stuck in the past. His roots ran deep, but he was always looking to new horizons,” According to McConnell.
According to Schumer, “To pay tribute to Senator Bob Dole is to honor someone who redefined and elevated what it means to serve country. By 21, Bob had given more of himself than most of us give in a lifetime and then he kept going for 77 years after that.”
“As I stand here and see his coffin on the catafalque that was built for Lincoln with that flag draped over it, I’m sure many of you here will agree, it’s hard to think of anyone who was more worthy to have a flag draped over his coffin because of his great patriotism to our country,” Pelosi continued.
Dole was a US senator representing Kansas for 27 years, twice serving as majority leader of the Senate. In 1996, he ran for president as the Republican nominee against Bill Clinton, but lost. It was his third attempt at the presidency. In 1976, after Nelson Rockefeller declined to continue as Vice President, Dole served as President Gerald Ford’s running mate.
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