Markey’s First Senate Speech Includes History, Recycled Climate Change Lines

Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Ed Markey delivered his first speech to the Senate Wednesday.

These were far from Markey’s first words in the chamber. In a tradition for the most junior of senators, Markey has sat as presiding officer at least a half-dozen times this summer.

But in his first full Senate speech, Markey talked about his humble upbringing and the state’s history. 

“It is no surprise that when America moved from farms to factories, it began in Massachusetts,” Markey said.

The senator did also talk about policy. He says he’ll soon introduce legislation he says will help combat climate change.

“The planet is running a fever. There are no emergency rooms for planets,” he said.

The location was perhaps more elegant, but that exact line was recycled from Markey’s Senate campaign and from a speech he made four years ago in the U.S. House. 

Markey’s first Senate speech comes just over two months since he took office. Fellow Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren made her first – about the Boston bombings – more than three months after she was sworn in.

Just a few decades ago, it would’ve been unheard of Markey and Warren to address the Senate at this point in their careers, according to Senate historian Donald Ritchie.  He says it would sometimes be several years before a senator was given the informal okay to address the chamber.

“They would often have a senior colleague who would tell them when it was appropriate,” Ricthie says. “They would say that new senators are to be seen but not heard. And then some subject of importance to their state would come along, and the senior senator would give them the nod, and that was the time to do it.”

Ritchie says that these days, some senators make speeches on the same day they are sworn-in. But he says the event remains an important one, with new senators congratulated by party leaders or their state’s senior senator.