Kyl bids farewell to Senate day before Arizona swears new senators

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) this morning discussed the work he accomplished in the United States Senate since being appointed to the seat in September.

“We were really busy during these four months,” Kyl said. “I tried to do as much as I could to carry out the things that Senator McCain had an interest in and wanted to do, as well as deal with new problems that were cropping up.”

Over his four months in office, Kyl helped advance issues important to the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), including: leading the discussion on the National Defense Strategy Commission report; helping secure hearings on advance technology concepts that could impact the U.S. military; and supporting the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act, which was named after McCain and expands volunteerism in national parks and public land.

According to Kyl, he “always heard [McCain] discuss the importance of Arizona’s defense industry. He had always emphasized the fact that our industry here in Arizona is significantly based around the country’s defense needs and that we provide a lot of the support for our military right here in the state of Arizona.”

Kyl helped reauthorize the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation at the University of Arizona, naming the environmental conflict resolution center after McCain. He also led discussions on nuclear modernization and issues involving Arizona’s water and public lands.

Kyl also played a role in the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh; passing an opioid bill, which will help stop the importing of opioids and help those with addictions; and passing a water infrastructure act.

While he opposed the Farm Bill, he did add in items that would help Arizona.

“One is called ‘Good Neighbor Authority’ for counties and tribes so that they can participate with the federal government in forest management activities. They didn’t have that authority previously, now they will. [This] could theoretically provide an opportunity for drought relief projects here in the state of Arizona,” Kyl said.

Kyl originally served in the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2013 before retiring. He was then appointed by Gov. Ducey to McCain’s seat after his passing.

Kyl announced that he would be stepping down following the 115th Congress which ended in December.

“It has been an honor and privilege to again serve the people of Arizona,” Kyl wrote in his resignation letter. “I have concluded that it would be best if I resign so your new appointee can begin the new term with all other Senators in January 2019 and serve a full two years.”

Kyl’s farewell takes place the day before the swearing in of Arizona’s two new senators – Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ).

“I wish our two new senators all the best in their endeavors as they get sworn in tomorrow,” Kyl said. He also noted that the most important thing for Arizona is for them to work together in a nonpartisan way.

Sinema was elected to the Senate in 2018 after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) retired. McSally, who ran against Sinema, was appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) after Kyl’s resignation.

The two of them will be the state’s first women senators. Arizona will be one of five states with two female senators.

Emily Richardson

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