U.S. Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, his voice at times breaking and choked with emotion, gave his farewell address to the Senate on the afternoon of December 9, 2020.
He talked about how no one expected the 2017 special election result that made him the first Democratic senator from Alabama since his mentor, U.S. Sen. Howell Heflin, retired in 1997.
“It seems like I just kind of love a lost cause,” Jones said. “I believe in hope. I believe in redemption. I believe in the possibility.”
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer introduced Jones, calling him “just a joy to be around.”
Schumer praised Jones for sticking to his principles.
“He’d do what he always did,” Schumer said. “He’d act on principle, he’d act on conscience, politics be damned.”
Schumer also called out Jones for pranking fellow U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, Democrat from Montana, for calling his cell phone in the middle of a speech.
Schumer said Jones insisted on getting all 100 senators to sign baseballs that he keeps as part of his memorabilia collection, which includes a ball signed by Joe DiMaggio.
Schumer likened Jones to small-town fictional attorney Atticus Finch, the hero of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” noting that Jones didn’t get to play Finch, but he once played the judge in a production of an adaptation of the novel in Birmingham. Jones is a real-life Finch, he said.
“The goal is healthcare for everyone,” Jones said. “It’s possible to provide quality education to every child. You’ve just got to roll up your sleeves and get it done.”
He also encouraged them to make high-speed internet available and affordable to all and to raise the minimum wage for lower-income workers.
“They work, they work hard,” Jones said. “We need to do what we can to lift them out of that poverty.”
Jones said he regrets that law enforcement reform was not passed in response to the killing of George Floyd on May 25 and the widespread protests that followed.
“It’s possible for law enforcement to serve and protect all Americans, not just some,” and “to root out systemic racism,” Jones said.
“I was disappointed we let that moment pass,” Jones said.
“It’s never too late for justice.”
Jones said the senate needs to make sure all people have access to the ballot box, and to make sure elections are secure, in response to allegations of fraud made by outgoing President Donald Trump.
“Let’s don’t let these allegations have any credence in the future,” Jones said. “Together, we can make our elections safe and secure.”
The faith of the people in their government is at stake.
“It’s possible to restore the American people’s faith in government,” Jones said. “That faith has been shaken. But it’s possible to restore it.”
Jones said he steered his own path in the senate.
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, Alabama’s other senator, took the podium after Jones and spoke of their friendship.
“I think we’ll hear more from him in the weeks and months to come,” Shelby said. “If we work together, Republicans and Democrats, we get things done. If not, things don’t happen.”
Several other senators took to the podium to praise Jones.
Tester spoke of his friendship with Jones. “I don’t think we’ve heard the last from Doug Jones,” he said.
Jones, a long-time friend of President-elect Joe Biden, is considered the leading candidate for U.S. attorney general. Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, the Republican nominee, defeated Jones in the Nov. 3 election and is scheduled to assume office in the U.S. Senate on Jan. 3, 2021.