Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the retirement of Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin. Senator Reid also welcomed new Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, who will be the first woman to serve in the role. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
For a few weeks in March of 2010, Alan Frumin was one of the most talked-about men in Washington.
The Senate was poised to send a historic health care reform bill to President Obama’s desk to sign.
But the usual procedural hurdles stood in the way.
Health care policy staffers were camped out in Alan Frumin’s office studying Senate precedent and procedure.
But despite the pressure, despite the national spotlight, Mr. Frumin remained calm and professional through what must have been one of the most intense moments of his career.
And for a few weeks every Capitol Hill reporter knew his name.
His bespectacled face was on every political news blog.
Every political science professor talked about him.
Even a few folks outside the beltway learned what on earth a “Senate Parliamentarian” does.
He was – briefly – a Washington celebrity.
But those of us who work in the Senate know Mr. Frumin has always been a star, even when very few people outside the Capitol knew who he was or what job he did.
Alan has served in the office of the Secretary of the Senate since 1977. And in his 18 years as Chief Parliamentarian he has made countless difficult decisions with composure.
He has encyclopedic knowledge of complex, convoluted Senate rules and procedures.
And he is, above all, impartial to a fault.
That’s why Mr. Frumin is the only parliamentarian ever to be hired by both Democrats and Republicans to serve in his crucial role.
In fact, he was retained in his position – despite a change of Senate control – four times by five different majority leaders.
One cannot be an effective parliamentarian without being fair-minded and judicious. But Alan Frumin also brings to the job a willingness to hear both sides of an argument and consider every side of an issue.
And his institutional knowledge is rich.
The truth is, Senate parliamentarians aren’t simply appointed. They grow into the job.
So I am pleased that the talented Elizabeth MacDonough, who has worked for Alan for a decade, will succeed him.
Elizabeth will be the sixth person to hold the job of parliamentarian since it was created in 1935, and the first woman.
And she steps into very large shoes.
I will miss Alan’s experience and guidance greatly. But I am happy that he will stay on to finish editing Riddick’s Senate Procedure, the official book of Senate procedure.
Congratulations, Alan, and thank you for your service.