The Alabama Legislature on Thursday honored former U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, the longest-serving U.S. Senator from Alabama.
The ceremony was held in the old state House Chamber, where Shelby began his career as an elected official over fifty years ago, and featured all major members of state government, including Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth and Speaker of the Alabama House Nathanial Ledbetter.
“When we think about Alabama’s monumental U.S. Senators, for many, Lister Hill, Jim Allen, and John Sparkman come to mind,” Governor Ivey said in her remarks on Thursday. “I think it is fair to say that their impacts have been rivaled, and eclipsed, by the work of Senator Richard Shelby.”
Ivey lauded Shelby for his success as a federal policymaker in steering economic investments, research monies, and federal funds to the state of Alabama over his tenure in Washington. His influence on the continued mission growth at Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal and Marshal Space Flight Center, and his involvement in the joint state and federal partnership to deepen and widen the Port of Mobile, were other area’s of Shelby’s legacy that Ivey highlighted on Thursday.
“We wish you the best, and we proudly welcome you home to our sweet home Alabama,” Ivey said in closing.
Shelby served two terms in the Alabama State Legislature, beginning in the state Senate in 1970 representing state Senate District 16. Later elected in 1978 to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional district, he would run and win an race for the U.S. Senate in 1986, a seat he would hold for six consecutive terms.
Over his time at the nation’s capital, Shelby served as chair of the Senate Rules Committee between 2017 and 2018, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee between 2018 and 2021, and briefly as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee between late January and June of 2001.
U.S. Sen. Katie Britt, R-Alabama, who served for a time as Shelby’s chief of staff in Washington, was elected to fill the seat left by Shelby upon his retirement to Alabama.
In his remarks before the joint body, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth described Shelby as “Alabama’s greatest builder” as a result of his wide success in securing federal resources and directly impacting the growth of Alabama over his tenure in the nation’s capitol.
“Perhaps the most important and lasting thing that Richard Shelby has built during 51 years in office is his legacy,” Ainsworth said. “A legacy that will provide jobs, hope, and opportunity to our children, our grandchildren, and their children after them.”