I was honored and humbled last night to receive the Amory Houghton, Jr., Award for Distinguished Public Service from former Representative Tom Davis, leader of the Republican Main Street Partnership.
Honored because the Partnership--a group of Congressional Republicans willing to work with colleagues across the aisle--represents to me the essence of bipartisanship.
Everyone reading this should understand the magnitude of their gesture in giving me this award. I serve in the Obama Administration. Yes, I was a Republican Congressman, and I remain a Republican, but--make no mistake--they are recognizing a Cabinet Officer sitting in a Democratic administration. Now, if that is not the Partnership reaching across party lines, I don't know what is.
That genuine bipartisanship, which Rep. Steven LaTourette spoke of in his remarks last night, is why the Partnership was so dear to me during my years in Congress. And it ought to be pretty clear by now that I value that approach to getting things done for this country.
Honored, also, because I believe so strongly in the value of public service.
It isn’t always easy. My former colleagues in Congress know that; my new colleagues in the Obama Administration are learning it. But, at the end of the day, you know you tried to do something for your country. That makes it worth the effort.
Humbled because the theme of last night's ceremony was "Divided We Fall," and during these tough times Lincoln's words remind us of what's at stake.
Now, Lincoln was a great practitioner of bipartisanship, of considering all voices before acting. It was humbling to represent Lincoln's part of Illinois in Congress, and it's humbling to serve in an Administration that evokes so much of Lincoln's legacy.
Humbled, as well, because of the many outstanding lawmakers and friends who have received this award before me not the least of whom is the award's worthy namesake, Amo Houghton.
An extra thank-you goes out to Sen. Susan Collins, who gave a shout-out to this very blog in her remarks!
And, thanks again to the Partnership for this recognition; I've got a lot of public service left in me, and I will do my best to live up to it.