Esty says farewell to Congress in final speech
Washington – Rep. Elizabeth Esty gave her last speech on the U.S. House floor on Tuesday, saying “Congress was not my dream, but making a difference was.”
Esty decided against running for re-election last year following criticism from Connecticut Democrats about how she handled an abusive staffer. Esty did not terminate the staffer for months after he learned of his abuse and gave him severance and a favorable job recommendation.
Elected in 2012 to represent the sprawling northwestern 5th congressional district, Esty was sworn into Congress shortly after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which is in the district.
“My task immediately was how to truly care for and represent those families, and being an effective voice for taking action to prevent gun violence,” Esty said Tuesday. “And at the time I did not know how to find the elevator to get to the attic office in the Cannon House Office Building.”
Esty became a co-chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. On Monday, the retiring lawmaker’s successor, Rep.-elect Jahana Hayes, said she planned to join the task force in the next Congress.
In her farewell address, Esty said former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. who served in the U.S. House for 60 years before his retirement, took her “under his wing and helped me navigate these halls.”
“He gave me invaluable advice,” Esty said. “He said ‘Elizabeth, always remember this – what you do is very important, but you are not important.’”
Esty did not mention the circumstances that prompted her to leave office. Instead, she spoke of her work promoting STEM education for women, seeking to improve her district’s infrastructure, and working with others to pass legislation that would help veterans.
“If you look for and build on common ground, you can get things done even with people with whom you disagree with on many issues,” Esty said.
She also said, “I can say without hesitation the white of the Capitol dome gleaming in the night still sends shivers down my spine, and always will.”
Esty has said she planned to take a few months to decide what she will do after leaving Congress.
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