Senator David Perdue: Johnny Isakson Is One Of The Greatest Among Us

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) spoke on the Senate floor to honor the legacy of U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who plans to retire at the end of 2019.

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“Madam President, I rise today with mixed emotions. I rise to recognize an incredible Georgian, a true statesman, a titan of the United States Senate, and most importantly, a friend to me and many people here and back home in Georgia – Senator Johnny Isakson.
“Like everyone, I was surprised and saddened to hear of Johnny’s upcoming retirement. Since my very first day in the Senate, walking through this door back here to be sworn in with Johnny escorting me, I’ve come to revere this guy. He’s been a mentor that I’ve looked up to. He’s been a great leader for our state for many years. He’s been a reliable and effective colleague. Most of all, he's been a friend whom I deeply cherish.
“It will be hard to see him go, but the reality is, he won't go. He’ll still be involved here. I’m sure I’ll get the phone calls about when we might have disagreed on a vote, or why didn't I think about this. He has been a tremendous partner for me these last four years.
“Johnny has left a profound legacy that's worth celebrating, one that we should all strive to follow here in this body. He epitomizes the best for the United States Senate. His legacy can be summed up in one word -- service. No matter what he does, Johnny puts other people before himself, and this has continued since the first day I knew him when he was running a real estate company in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Johnny puts other people first before himself. He doesn't do it for recognition or fame. Many times he does it when people don't notice or know he did it. He does it because it's the right thing to do.
“He served his country as a member of the Georgia Air National Guard. He served his communities as a Sunday schoolteacher for 30 years. I’ve done that, Madam President, and I know that's a labor of love. That takes a lot of work. He served the people of Georgia in the State House and the State Senate and later in both houses of the United States Congress. In fact, he's the only Georgian to ever to have done that. No matter what role Johnny has been in, he has always focused on helping others.
“His dedication to service is even more impressive because it has produced incredible results for our country. This town has a lot of activity, but it's short on results. Johnny knows the difference.
“For example, one of Johnny’s top priorities in congress has been to take care of our country's veterans. Georgia is home to over 700,000 veterans today. As a veteran himself, Johnny treats each one of them as his own sister or brother. When Johnny saw the shameful conditions and mismanagement happening at the VA, he immediately sprang into action. Fixing the VA seemed impossible, but no challenge was too large for Johnny Isakson. Thanks to him, as chairman of the Senate Veterans Administration Committee, we made incredible progress on this and many other fronts relating to the VA. His efforts, such as the VA MISSION Act, have helped bring accountability, efficiency, and trust back to the department.
“As the junior U.S. Senator from Georgia, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Johnny on a number of other issues affecting our states, and each time I saw just how effective Johnny Isakson really is.
“I’ve likened him, Madam President, to the Howard Baker of our era. He speaks softly, but when he speaks, people listen.
“Working with Johnny, we broke the political logjam to provide much-needed disaster relief for farmers in South Georgia just this year.
“We secured funding for the deepening of the Port of Savannah after 20 years of trying to get it deepened just five feet.
“We solved the tax funding under his leadership for Plant Vogtle, which secured funding for the first two nuclear reactors built in this country in the last 30 years.
“And he helped pass the First Step Act, which makes our justice system fairer while still deterring criminal behavior. These achievements would not have been possible without Johnny’s steady hand and his leadership.
“When he speaks, people listen. He gets the job done. He understands what priority means. Yet, Johnny isn't the kind of leader who gives orders and makes demands. He’s someone who leads from a place of respect, compromise, and understanding, with both sides of the aisle. With Johnny, it doesn't matter who you are, what party you're in or where you're from. He’s always there to talk and always ready to listen.
“Johnny Isakson is exactly the kind of servant leader that the Founding Mothers and Founding Fathers envisioned for our country. It is what makes him a true statesman, and it is a model that I’m sure our Founding Mothers and Founding Fathers would indeed be very proud of today.
“Of course the road has not always been easy for Johnny. Not every battle has been won. Not all news has been good. What I’ve always admired about Johnny, though, is his stalwart resilience. Whenever circumstances have tried to knock him down, he always gets back up with a smile, and he keeps serving others. You feel guilty when you're around Johnny Isakson when you're having a bad day. If Johnny asks how you are doing, you better say great because he's going to give you that same answer.
“As he and Dianne head into this next chapter of their life, I have no doubt that Johnny will continue to serve others and help make our world a better place because that's exactly who he is. Scripture tells us in Matthew 23 that ‘the greatest among you will be a servant.’ When you consider all that Johnny has done, it's clear to me that Johnny Isakson truly is the greatest among us. Madam President, I yield the floor. Thank you.”