Mr. President, I wish to speak this morning to honor the memory of Paul and Sheila Wellstone.  Today is exactly five years that they died in a plane crash just outside of Eveleth, Minnesota, a beautiful area of the state called the Iron Range where, in some ways, Paul Wellstone got his political start.  Part of it was the farms in southern Minnesota where he stood up for our farmers when their farms were being foreclosed on, but part of it was the work he did with the iron ore miners. 
My grandfather was an iron ore miner working 1,500 feet under the ground in the mines of the Iron Range where Paul died.  His daughter was killed and his long time staff members were killed, as well as the pilot and copilot of the small plane that carried all of them.  On this day, five years later, the people of our state, the people of Minnesota, are remembering that crash and remembering Paul and Sheila. 
It's so hard to believe that it has been five years since we lost them.  It feels both so long ago and not so long ago at all.  Part of why it doesn't seem so long ago to me is because everywhere I go in this Capitol people remind me of Paul. When I say I'm the Senator from Minnesota, they remember Paul.  It's people like Ted Kennedy who worked with him on mental health issues, to the tram drivers like Darrell who for years and years and years has driven that tram from the Capitol to the Russell office building.  When I said I was the new senator from Minnesota he said "Paul Wellstone, he was the senator from Minnesota."  The cops that guard the Capitol, they remember Paul.  The secretaries in the offices, they remember Paul.  And that's because he treated everyone with such dignity in this Capitol and such dignity in our state. That was Paul Wellstone. 
For me as for so many other Minnesotans, it is impossible to forget the moment that we first heard about the plane going down and then the wait to get the final news that there were no survivors.  Paul and Sheila would be the first to tell us that we should not look back on what they accomplished and stood for.  They would be the first to insist that our responsibility is to look ahead to the work that still must be done to carry their legacy forward.  Although Paul and Sheila are no longer with us, we know their dreams and passions remain very much alive.  I get my own special reminder every day -- not just with the employees in the Capitol but also the flags from Paul's Senate office that are now in our Senate office.  Every day it's a powerful reminder of me for Paul and all he tried to do here in Washington. 
During his lifetime as an educator, as an activist and as a United States Senator, Paul inspired people throughout Minnesota and throughout America.  Even now, his work and his spirit continue to inspire people of all ages, from all walks of life, all across our country, who remember Paul for the fundamental values that he fought and struggled for.  He was a voice for the voiceless.  He and Sheila stood up for victims of domestic violence who were afraid to talk about it, or were afraid to go to court.  They stood up for them and made this their life's passion. He brought power to the powerless.  People like the iron miners in Minnesota.  People like those farmers, whose homes, farms, are foreclosed on.  He brought justice to those who suffered injustice.  He brought opportunity to those who didn't have opportunity. You go to any Somali event in our state and they remember Paul.  Some of them, the elders, can hardly speak English, but they can say "Wellstone." 
I know that I will forever be humbled by the oath that I took to be the Senator from Minnesota.  And I know that not I or anyone else can follow, truly, in Paul's footsteps.  But he is an inspiration for us all.  Paul is my friend and my mentor.  He taught me how to campaign on city buses.  We would get on -- because this is when I first ran for office, Mr. President, when I ran for county attorney -- we would get on a city bus and we would work the entire bus. We would meet everyone on that bus and we would get to the end of eight blocks we would say, “We got to go, we are at our stop,” and we would get on a bus going the next way.  And we would go around and around and around for hours until we met everyone that had been on the buses on the mall in Minneapolis that afternoon.  Paul Wellstone worked bus by bus, block by block, precinct by precinct to touch people in a way that made people believe, made people know, that involvement in politics could make a real difference in their lives. 
That was what he told those new immigrants, those new citizens.  He told them that involvement in politics can make a difference in their lives.  He did it not only by his words, but by how much he went out and touched them and was a part of their lives.  He was crusader and a man with many passions.  But anyone who ever met or talked with him quickly found out that he had a special passion for helping those, as Senator Reid mentioned, helping those with mental illness. That was shaped by the suffering by a member of his own family.  Many of you may know Paul's story about his brother, Steven.  As a young child, Paul watched his brother's traumatic dissent into mental illness.  As a freshman in college he suffered a severe mental breakdown and spent the next two years in mental hospitals.  Eventually he recovered and graduated from college with honors but it took his immigrant parents years to pay off the hospital bills. 
Writing about this, Paul recalled the years that his brother was hospitalized.  For two years the house always seemed dark, even when the lights were on.  It was such a sad home.  Decades later, Paul knew there were far too many sad homes in our great nation, too many families devastated by the physical and financial consequences of mental illness.  Paul knew that we can and we should do better.  For years, he fought to allocate funding for better care, better services and better representation for the mentally ill and for years he fought for mental health parity in health insurance coverage. 
Finally, this year, at last, it looks like Paul's dream may finally come true.  Just last month, the Senate unanimously voted in support of legislation that will guarantee equity for mental insurance, health insurance coverage.  This will be a victory if we can get this passed and work with the House and get the strongest bill possible.  This will be a victory for millions of Americans living with mental illness who face unfair discrimination in their access to affordable health care treatment. 
For Paul, this was always a matter of civil rights, of justice, and of basic human decency.  And, of course, on this issue, as every other issue, Sheila and Paul were together.  And they moved quickly.  Paul and Sheila had so much energy and they were always on the move.  They brought such enthusiasm and such joy to their work.  They were animated.  They were tireless.  They were persistent in their fight against injustice.  I had the opportunity to work closely with Sheila when I was the chief prosecutor for Hennepin County.  She focused on domestic violence and instrumental in creating and funding the Hennepin County Domestic Abuse Center which I supervised during my eight years as county attorney.  That center is a national and international model for serving victims of domestic violence by bringing together a full range of services and resources in one central location. Victims of domestic violence don't have to go through the red tape that would be even hard for a lawyer to figure out.  There's a center where children can come and play, prosecutors, police, shelters -- all located under one roof.  Sheila knew the statistics on domestic violence and knew these kids were six times more likely to commit suicide, and 24 times more likely to commit sexual assault.  They are 60 times more likely to exhibit delinquent behavior and most chilling of all, little boys who witness domestic violence, are 100 times more likely to become abusers themselves.  Sheila knew these numbers. 
It was just a few weeks before the tragic crash that I saw Sheila and Paul.  Sheila and I had been asked to speak to a group of new citizens, immigrants from Russia.  And it was a very small group.  I think there were about 50 people there. And we talked about our own immigrant experiences.  She talked about her parents and growing up in Appalachia, and I talked about my Slovenian relatives coming over and making their way, saving money in a coffee can in the basement so that they could send my dad to college.  And we were in the middle of these stories in this very small room.  And all of a sudden in walked Paul, and he wasn't supposed to be there.  He had gotten an early flight home from Washington.  And he wasn't supposed to be there because he was just about a month out on one of the biggest elections for the United States Senate in the country.  He had just voted, taken the brave vote, the courageous vote, to vote against the resolution on Iraq. He knew he was up for reelection; he knew it might cost him the election.  But he did the right thing.  And he came into that room where there's no press, no reporters, a few weeks before this election. 
At the time I thought, “Why did he do this when he's got to be out there campaigning?”  And I knew then that there were two reasons that he did it.  First is that he loved Sheila, and he wanted to surprise her and he wanted to be there by her side while she gave her speech and gave her remarks.  But he was also there because he embraced the immigrant experience.  He liked nothing more than talking about how you can come to this country with nothing and pull yourself up by your bootstraps.  You can be a guy working 1,500 feet underground in the mines in Elie, Minnesota, and your granddaughter can be a United States Senator.  You can be someone with mental illness like Paul's brother and grow up to get a college degree and be a teacher. You can be a victim of domestic violence and get your life back together and have a home for your kids. That's what Paul and Sheila stood for.  That was their legacy.  And today in our state of Minnesota and throughout this country and this Capitol, we think of them and what they stood for, and we pledge to work again to fill their legacy. 
Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.  And I note the absence of a quorum.