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McCaskill jabs Senate in farewell speech: 'Something is broken'

Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill gave a defiant and emotional speech Thursday on the Senate floor as she said goodbye to politics.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill gave a defiant and emotional speech Thursday on the Senate floor as she said goodbye to politics.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill gave an emotional farewell speech Thursday, thanking her family, staff and supporters, but also criticizing the Senate, saying the legislative body has become dysfunctional.

“We have too many embarrassing uncles in the United States Senate,” she said from the institution’s floor. “Lots of embarrassing stuff. The United States Senate is no longer the world’s greatest deliberative body. And everybody needs to quit saying it until we recover from this period of polarization and the fear of political consequences of tough votes.”

Since taking office in 2007, McCaskill noted some of the changes she’s seen. When she was elected, the Senate voted on 306 amendments, while this year there were 36, she said.

“That’s a remarkable difference,” McCaskill said. “Something is broken. And if we don’t have the strength to look in the mirror and fix it, the American people are going to grow more and more cynical. And they might do something crazy, like elect a reality TV star president.”

In her speech, which last about 10 minutes, McCaskill acknowledged her years of service, opting not to focus on her accomplishments.

Listen to Sen. Claire McCaskill's full farewell speech here.

“I’m extremely proud of my body of work over 34 years of public service,” McCaskill said. “But it is for others to judge. And I won’t dwell on it today, other than to say it is a long list and a tangible demonstration of the value of hard work.”

She praised her husband, Joseph Shepard, for his support, especially in light of campaign attacks on his business, and she thanked her children.

“Infants in car seats going to political events,” McCaskill said. “Toddlers sometimes sitting not so quietly as I gave a speech. And amazing troopers in the almost decade of my career when I was a single working mom, hauling them all over the state on campaigns.”

The Democrat was unable to pull out another win last month in a tight race against Republican Josh Hawley.

McCaskill, 65, told St. Louis Public in August she would not run for governor in 2020. Hawley is set to join fellow Republican Roy Blunt next month when he takes office.

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Marissanne Lewis-Thompson joined St. Louis Public Radio October 2017 as the afternoon newscaster and as a general assignment reporter. She previously spent time as a feature reporter at KRCU in Cape Girardeau, where she covered a wide variety of stories including historic floods, the Bootheel, education and homelessness. In May 2015, she graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism degree in Convergence Journalism. She's a proud Kansas City, Missouri native, where she grew up watching a ton of documentaries on PBS, which inspired her to tell stories. In her free time, she enjoys binge watching documentaries and anime. She may or may not have a problem.