Transcript of Senator Ted Stevens' Speech in Honor of Senator Warren Magnuson at Senator Warren Magnuson's 100th Birthday Event

April 9, 2005

I really am glad to be here and I’m honored to have the opportunity to reminisce about Warren Magnuson, because he was, during our territorial days, he was the Senator for Alaska – there’s no question about that. And, Scoop was very much involved in helping us on the military side of it.

It was Warren that helped us build the highways, and the docks, and, really, the assistance that brought us out of the 19th century and into the 20th century. When I got there, to the Senate – and that’s now 36 years ago, going on 37 – Warren had already served as a Senator from Washington for 24 years and served in the House for 7. As Norm said, he had been a U.S. Attorney, was U.S. Attorney. He had been appointed. He was on Commerce and Appropriations and that’s where I was. He sort of took me under his wing in many ways. And, I worked very closely with Scoop, too. I think the two of them were more than colleagues. They were mentors and they were teachers and they were absolutely good friends. And from time to time, Warren called me son.

As a matter of fact, I won’t forget my 50th birthday because on that birthday I was feeling a little old and the bell rang and I got on the subway to go over to the floor to vote, and Warren said, “Son, when this vote is over I want to talk to you.” After the vote was over and I talked to Warren and I got on the subway going back, John Stennis said, “Hey boy, I’ve got to see you right now.” Now, where else could you be 50-years-old and have two people call you son and boy. They both have the right to do it, by the way.

You’ll hear from Dan and the bond between us really does come from our sharing the relationship with Warren Magnuson and Scoop Jackson. We had the same kinds of concerns as representatives of offshore states. When you think of some of the issues that I was involved with and many of the staff here were part of that – the Magnuson Act, which later Senator Hollings insisted be called the Magnuson-Stevens Act, it was the Magnuson Act; the Amateur Sports Act that created the U.S. Olympic Committee. That was an interesting series of events – we were all in the minority – my friend Glenn Beall, Republican Senator from Maryland, he decided that he was going to bring about the creation of U.S. Olympic Committee and he got in a fight with the NCAA and he lost the next election. Then Marlow Cook, in the next Congress decided that he going to find a way to get a U.S. Olympic Committee and he got in a fight with the AAU and he lost the next election. Right after we convened, and Jermaine, when you and Warren came back to Washington, it was a little bit late as always – Warren told me the way to live a long life was to go home right after adjournment and not come back until after Easter. I wish I had the guts to do that. He came up to me that fifth year and he said, “Ted, someone’s got to solve this problem with the U.S. Olympics. Will you take it on?” I said, “Hell, Warren, I thought you were friend.” The other two guys had already been defeated. But, we did it because he said, “Okay, if you take it on, you do it your way.” And we decided we would just have what we called listening sessions and listen to the various sectors of the country that were involved in Olympic sports. And we did that and the bill that passed out of Committee when he was Chairman, passed the Senate in one day and passed the House and went to the President without a single amendment. And, that’s what we’re pursuing now as my Chairmanship of Commerce – trying to find some way to solve problems the Magnuson way. It is really something that when you think back to the days we were there, and the problems we had as a new State, really, both of our states were new and in the same year we had so many problems with the Federal government, if we hadn’t had friends like Senator Magnuson and Senator Jackson, I don’t think we really would have made it through.

He really didn’t seek the limelight, you know. He really didn’t seek publicity. Grandstanding was not his style, except here at home when he went to campaign, he did a damn good job. I think that we can really truly call him a workhorse, because I think if you look at history, no one ever produced as much legislation as the Chairman of a Committee that is still on the books and still part of the fabric of our laws, as Warren Magnuson did. He earned our respect and there is no question that the two of us learned the ropes from Warren as Chairman of the Commerce Committee. As you’ve heard, he was Chairman of Commerce and Chairman of Appropriations. I reversed that Chairman of Appropriations, Chairman of Commerce. We have, Dan and I, developed from the days we worked with Warren, a practice of calling each other co-chairs. We do not believe that politics should be part of the legislative process, so that we do our greatest to keep the Senate together and understand our job is to try to get the job done.

I went back and looked at the statement I made after Warren passed away and I told the Senate about the last time that I visited him when he was a Member of the Senate. I did come out here later and have a couple of meetings with him. But, Warren called me to come over to his office and he said, he was almost in tears as a matter of fact, Jermaine, he said he was leaving and he had sat behind this desk for 34 years and he couldn’t stand the thought that someone would sit behind the desk that he didn’t know, so he asked me to take his desk and the chairs – I didn’t get that chair he sat in, that one that leaned back, someone else took that before I got there. But, if you come to room 522 of the Hart building today, you’ll find that desk. You’ll find the chairs and you’ll find the couch, because I told him as long as I served as Senator from Alaska, I would keep my commitment to him to keep those things that he treasured – the desk that he used and the chairs that he used, the chairs that many of you have sat in.

And, I’ll tell you tonight what I told the Senate when I finished that and it’s absolutely true, as I sit at that desk Warren Magnuson is still with me in spirit and he helps me maintain the balance as a Republican in facing the chores that we face as United States Senators. He was a great American, a great patriot. He and Scoop taught us what those words meant, to be a great American, to be a patriot, and the two of us hope we carried on that tradition. Thank you very much.