Editor's Note: This column is an excerpt from Capito's maiden speech as a United States Senator. It was delivered March 10.
WASHINGTON – I am deeply humbled by the confidence placed in me by West Virginians. To serve as West Virginia’s first female Senator is a true honor and one that comes with great responsibility.
I hope to serve as an example for the next generation of West Virginians, including my own grandchildren Celia and Charlie and many others.
I find myself in a unique place in history and am grateful to and inspired by my loving family – my husband Charlie and our three children – Charles, Moore, Shelley and their spouses.
For 14 years I proudly served the people of West Virginia’s second congressional district in the House of Representatives. I bring that experience to the Senate combined with a strong desire to make Washington work for West Virginia.
West Virginia has a time-honored history of exceptional Senators, including my predecessors Senators Jay Rockefeller and Robert C. Byrd. I am appreciative of their efforts to better West Virginia during their more than 80 years of combined public service in this great body.
I am proud of our state’s rich history, culture and natural beauty.
But it is our people that I hold dearest to my heart.
West Virginians are strong and resilient. We are the embodiment of our state’s history.
Born of the Civil War, West Virginians fought for freedom in the face of great turmoil.
As a result, President Abraham Lincoln signed the proclamation making West Virginia the 35th state admitted to the union.
Today, our state’s forceful motto “Mountaineers are always free” remains emblazoned in Latin on our state flag.
We will never forget the principles our great state was founded on.
The Mountain State is home to unmatched scenery and a wealth of natural resources that can power our nation’s economy.
A state filled with small towns, Main Streets and tightknit communities, West Virginians come together to solve problems and help neighbors in need. I have often said that West Virginia is one big small town.
West Virginians expect the United States Senate to find pragmatic solutions to the momentous problems confronting our country.
That is particularly true now, during this period of divided government.
There are clear differences among the American people, and those differences are certainly reflected here in the United States Senate.
West Virginia is represented by both parties in the Senate, and I look forward to continuing to work with my friend Senator Joe Manchin in the months ahead.
Together I hope we can reinstate respect for the institution – a place where deliberation and debate are valued and all voices are heard.
We owe it to the American people to do better.
Throughout my time in Congress, I have heard a clear and consistent message from West Virginians: improve the economic opportunities for our state, stop the bickering and fight for our jobs.
As Leader Mitch McConnell has stated, to do this the Senate must work more, have an open amendment process and take tough votes.
After all, that’s why we’re here.
Our plate is full and expectations are high – as they should be.
We need to roll up our sleeves and deliver.
I am optimistic that we can find solutions that move our country forward.
There will be differences of opinion and philosophy along the way, but Americans expect that we bridge those gaps.
Senator Byrd, the longest-serving Senator said it best, “I love this Senate. I love it dearly. I love the Senate for its rules. I love the Senate for its precedence. I love the Senate for the difference that it can make in people's lives.”
Fighting for West Virginians always has – and always will – be my top priority.
I am honored to represent the great people of the Mountain State as we strive to create a strong and prosperous future.
Now is the time to make Washington work for West Virginia.
I stand ready to do my part.
Capito, a Republican, is West Virginia's junior United States Senator.