WASHINGTON (WCBD) — Outgoing South Carolina Democrat Joe Cunningham delivered a farewell speech on the House floor Thursday, ending it in memorable fashion – by cracking open a beer.
During the speech, Rep. Cunningham said that serving the people of the Lowcountry was the honor of a lifetime, and recalled how he beat the odds to win his seat.
“A Democrat in a ruby red and gerrymandered district that President Trump carried by 13 points back in 2016, one that had not been served by a Democrat in my lifetime. But we made it here by promising something different. By promising to work with one another.”
He said that while he was proud of things accomplished during his time in office, he was also disheartened by the hyper-partisanship and tendency to put party before people. Cunningham recalled Washington being “rife with partisanship and chaos” when he arrived. But he was determined to be part of the solution.
Some of his proudest accomplishments included environmental protections for Lowcountry waters, his status as one of the most bipartisan members of Congress, and his “ability to work with anyone.”
Unfortunately for Cunningham, he found that “bipartisanship and civility seem to be the exception, and not the rule.”
Cunningham lambasted what he described as a spirit of self-preservation in Congress, which he blamed for some of his colleagues spreading misinformation, embracing conspiracy theories they know are false, mocking the president behind his back while praising him publicly, and creating a system “where most politicians can’t lose, and most Americans can’t win.”
He urged Republicans and Democrats to put politics aside and come together for the American people, especially during this time of great need.
“The other side is not the enemy; the enemy is the stubbornness of our own biases. The enemy is a political system that seeks to divide us for sport. Let’s fight that and not each other.”Rep. Cunningham (D-S.C.)
Cunningham said that there is nothing two people can’t work out if they sit down and have a chat over a beer.
He said that he “won’t ever stop reaching across the aisle, or trying to work with one another, or sitting down and having a beer and listening to each other.”
As he raised his glass to his “colleagues, both Democrat and Republican,” Cunningham said he hoped to leave a legacy of “bipartisanship and cooperation.”
Appropriately, his chosen beverage was “Joint Resolution” by DC-based brewing company DC Brau Brewing.
Watch the full speech below: