SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Republican Congressman John Katko gave what is likely his final speech in public office Monday night inside the Tan Auditorium at Syracuse University’s National Veteran’s Resource Center. Reflecting on his eight-year career in Congress he called it “one hell of a ride” saying he decided to not run for re-election in order to spend more time with his family.
In his farewell speech, he thanked his family, staff, and constituents for their support and confidence in him. During a Q+A session with SU’s political science professor Grant Reeher, he talked about his commitment to bipartisanship, oftentimes being named the most bipartisan member of Congress. He said he learned to stand up to leadership and fight for what he believed in regardless of his party’s stance, most notably when he joined nine other Republicans in voting to impeach then-President Donald Trump after the January 6 insurrection on the capitol.
As a ranking member of the House’s Committee on Homeland Security Katko spoke about his involvement in foreign affairs and our nation’s armed forces but says his biggest achievement was helping to get the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill passed, a piece of legislation he had been working on since 2017.
“Probably one of the most impactful pieces of legislation this side of the CHIPS Act that our countries seen in a long long time so I’m very very proud of that and I’m proud of what the problem solvers caucus did to make that happen,” he said.
As for Congressman Katko’s advice to his successor, he said: “Listen to everyone on both sides of the aisle. You don’t just represent Republicans and the Democrats are not enemies but the 10 percent of the things you agree with them on work on those for the good of the community and listen to everybody.”
Republican Congressman-elect Brandon Williams was not in attendance at Katko’s farewell speech but his Democratic competitor Francis Conole was. Also in attendance, were Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and his father, former Congressman Jim Walsh.
Katko has just over a month until his official retirement from public office and says he’s looking forward to spending more time with his family and hunting.