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End-of-Session Valedictories and Eulogies

A well-established ritual occurs near the end of each biennial session of Congress. Members deliver floor speeches to honor colleagues who will not be returning for the next Congress. For senior members, those remarks extend through many pages of the Congressional Record and in some instances are subsequently published as Senate documents.

In the session's final moments, the two party floor leaders commend one another, thank floor and committee staffs for their long hours and tireless effort, and then telephone the president to inquire whether he has any more business for Congress before it adjourns for the year. In recent times, the Senate has sponsored a "retirement dinner" to honor departing members.

Baker, Richard A. The New Members' Guide to Traditions of the United States Senate. (Washington, GPO, 2006. S. Pub. 109-25), 27.