Jones Calls For Bipartisanship In Farewell To Senate, Does Not Address Talk Biden Favors Him For AG

Sen. Doug Jones’ Facebook page

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones gave his farewell speech to the Senate on December 9, 2020

Outgoing U.S. Sen. Doug Jones bid farewell to his colleagues during a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon, urging them to set aside partisan politics and restore the American people’s faith in government.

Jones was elected to the Senate in a surprise upset in 2017, becoming the first Alabama Democrat elected to the Senate in 25 years. He was beaten handily in last month’s election by former Auburn football head coach Tommy Tuberville.

During his speech Wednesday afternoon, Jones said he’d expected not to be re-elected. “I remember right after I was elected, I was talking to a friend of mine. … We talked about the possibility that we could work on a bill as important as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” Jones said. “I knew, though, such opportunities were not likely, especially in what I knew to be a three-year window and not knowing what the future would hold — although, I’ve got to be honest, I had a pretty doggone good idea when I got here. If there’s one thing my mama always taught me, it was to be realistic about things.”

Some reports Wednesday put Jones as President-elect Joe Biden’s top pick for attorney general, while others said he was in the top two contenders. Jones did not mention those reports during his speech Wednesday, but he did promise to continue “working toward those same goals too, even after I leave this place.”

“There’s a sadness at what I’m going to leave behind, but there’s also optimism,” he said. “Leading together, we’ll continue to build a better future for the American people.”

During his speech, Jones spotlighted several of his accomplishments in office, including his co-sponsored bill eliminating the military widows’ tax, as well as his focus on “so-called third rail issues,” that had often been considered political taboo.

“I believe that right now there is no time for caution,” he said. “My first speech on the Senate floor was about gun violence. No one could believe that a senator from Alabama talked about how we could stop gun violence in a way that made some sense — not from an extreme view on the right or an extreme view on the left, but right there in ways that made sense. It was a topic that I knew could have easily been twisted into a negative campaign ad — which, by the way, it was.”

Jones called on his colleagues remaining in the Senate to “get out of partisan corners,” citing his partnerships with Republican senators such as Ted Cruz and Susan Collins.

“I am not the first and I certainly will not be the last to talk about the importance of bringing people together who have opposing views and working toward what is possible and palatable,” he said. “I’ve looked at a lot of farewell speeches in the last month, they all say a lot of the same things, and everybody I’m sure nods. We’ve got to do better. You have to do better.”

“It’s possible — and this is going to be a challenge — to restore the American people’s faith in government,” he added. “We know right now that this faith has been shaken for many, many reasons, but it’s possible to restore it … to see things from others’ point of view, to find that common ground. It’s possible for us to realize that progress is not a zero-sum game, that a rising tide lifts all boats. These things are not easy. They take dedication and they’re hard choices, but they’re worthy goals,” he said.

More BirminghamWatch Coverage

Erasing The Stain: 15,000 Pardoned Of Marijuana Possession Convictions

Mayor Randall Woodfin plans to pardon more than 15,000 Birmingham residents convicted of marijuana possession.

Jefferson County Nears Deal For New Humane Society

The plan is for Jefferson County to purchase lots one and two of the property, which would remain under county ownership. The Greater Birmingham Humane Society would purchase lot three and build an animal hospital and adoption control facility there.

Derek Chauvin Found Guilty Of George Floyd’s Murder

Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, has been found guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Past And Present Collide As Community Health Centers Strive To Close Rural Care Gaps In The Pandemic

Many rural health leaders believe community health centers, which were born in the 60s to reach low-income communities of color, were a missing piece in achieving equity in the vaccine rollout.

Birmingham Sets Up Civilian Board to Review Police Misconduct

The five-member board will have the authority to investigate citizen complaints and will have some subpoena powers to aid those investigations.

Big Union Loss At Amazon Warehouse Casts Shadow Over Labor Movement

Last week's overwhelming vote against forming a union at Amazon's Bessemer warehouse was the latest in a string of disappointments for labor unions. Now Amazon employees and union backers are trying to find a way forward.

More BirminghamWatch Coverage