Durbin Honors Senate Tenure of Roy Blunt

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) paid tribute to U.S. Senator Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) tenure in the Senate ahead of Blunt’s retirement at the end of the 117th Congress. Durbin began his speech by praising Blunt’s commitment to working across the aisle to ensure that water infrastructure projects along the shared Illinois-Missouri border were adequately funded.   

“Many of the locks and dams that keep the [Mississippi] river navigable are nearly a hundred years old. For many years now, Senator Blunt has worked with me and with the Army Corps of Engineers to come up with a plan that we call the Navigation Ecosystem Sustainability Program,” said Durbin.

The Navigation Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) aims to expand and modernize seven locks at the most congested locations along the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers to make sure the waterways can continue to serve as a major navigation channel that move crops and other goods throughout the country.

Durbin continued his speech, thanking Blunt for his steadfast support of biomedical research. For nearly a decade, Durbin and Blunt have shared a common goal of steadily increasing research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance treatments and improve health outcomes. Together, Durbin and Blunt, alongside former U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), built bipartisan momentum focused on securing a five percent increase in research funding for NIH annually.

“For years, NIH had limped along with flat-funding and sequestration budget cuts. Inadequate funding had really hurt research at NIH. It discouraged a lot of young scientists who couldn’t count on regular funding from Congress,” Durbin said. “Over seven years, we’ve seen NIH funding increase by more than $14 billion, a nearly 50 percent increase from where we started… Senator Blunt honored his commitment to medical research and made a difference in America.”

“He has pursued our shared goal with decency, genuine curiosity, and a vision for the promise of medical discovery. There are people today in America, and around the world, who are going to have better lives because of Roy Blunt’s commitment. That’s a legacy that he certainly can be proud of,” said Durbin.

Durbin concluded his remarks by wishing his colleague a fulfilling retirement.

“Loretta and I wish him, his wife Abby, and his family all the best as they start this new chapter,” said Durbin.

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.