‘It is time to put down this gavel:’ Sen. Patrick Leahy announces he will retire next year

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Senator Patrick Leahy announced he was retiring at the end of his term after nearly 50 years of serving Vermonters.

He made the announcement at Vermont’s State House, where at just 33 years old, he declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Now after eight terms, he says “It’s time to come home.”

In an address Monday morning, Leahy touted his decades of service to Vermont’s environment, including the cleanup of Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog. He also worked to support the state’s farmers by establishing a law that set the standards for organic farming.

Those who were food insecure were also supported as he created a national school lunch program that sourced school meals from local farms. During his time in the U.S. Senate, Leahy advocated for more protections during the Vietnam War, the 9/11 attacks, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I brought Vermont’s voice to the United States Senate and Vermont values across the world,” said Leahy.

State leaders and colleagues are expressing their gratitude, calling his retirement “well-earned.” Leahy was first elected in 1974 after he previously served four terms as Chittenden County State’s Attorney. He later rose to chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Judiciary Committee and currently leads the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“He’s really been a giant in the Senate, in Vermont politics. I think of his impact on Vermont, on the nation, and on the world,” said Ed Pagano, Leahy’s former chief of staff.

As chair of the Judiciary and Appropriations committees, Leahy advocated for Native-American women, LGTBQ+ individuals, children and 9-11 first responders.  

“People here in Vermont, people across the country, people across the world who have very different lives than his — but he can imagine it and can imagine the needs. And I’m very proud of that,” said Leahy’s sister, Mary. 

He also brought in more than $2.5 billion to aid Vermonters during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of Vermont’s Congressional Delegation and Governor Phil Scott expressed their gratitude for his service calling him quote a “towering figure,” a “champion for Vermonters” and “hard to imagine the U.S. Senate without him.”  

“I am confident in what the future holds, and Marcel and I will pray for that future,” said Leahy.

Following his announcement, Leahy joined President Joe Biden Monday afternoon in Washington where he signed the $1 trillion infrastructure plan.

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