As we reported last month, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has served in the Senate for a really, really, seriously long time. So long that when he was first elected in 1974, you weren't even born, son. So long that, late Wednesday afternoon, he cast his 14,000th vote in the esteemed legislative body.
Leahy's ceremonial 'yea' came during a close vote on a Democratic bill seeking to extend expiring tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 a year. With Vice President Joe Biden presiding over the Senate in case of a tie, the bill passed by a vote of 51 to 48. Leahy's 13,999th vote was a 'nay' cast against a Republican measure that would have extended the Bush-era tax cuts to all Americans — one percenters included.
"I have valued every single moment here," Leahy said during brief remarks on the Senate floor following congratulatory speeches by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Much of Leahy's remarks focused on the role his wife, Marcelle, has played during his nearly four decades on the Hill.
"I love the Senate. It's been a major part of my life. But I was glad to hear both leaders mention the true love of my life, my wife of nearly 50 years," Leahy said, wiping a tear from his eye. "There is nothing I've accomplished throughout my whole public career that I could have done without Marcelle's help."
Only six senators have cast more votes than Leahy, including such luminaries as Robert Byrd (18,689), Strom Thurmond (16,348) and Ted Kennedy (15,236). Sen Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii.) is the only sitting senator who outranks the Vermonter in both years and votes (16,265). Also feted Wednesday was Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana.), who cast his 13,000th vote at the same time as Leahy's — though his was a 'nay.' Lugar, the Senate's third-ranking member, was defeated in Indiana's Republican primary in May.
Click here to learn which votes Leahy's most and least proud of casting over the years.