Senators spend a great deal of time on the floor of the Senate debating legislation, but from time to time, they also discuss personal interests and concerns. Since 1873, the Congressional Record has carried a daily account of the proceedings on the House and the Senate floors. The purpose of the Congressional Record is to provide a verbatim report of debates; however, members of Congress may revise and extend their comments, by striking language they do not want and adding additional documents or information they were not able to include in their speeches on the floor. Even when the Senate is not debating a bill, the Congressional Record reports the conversations.
On Jan 30, 2001, freshman Sen John Ensign (R-NV) served as the presiding officer of the Senate when Sen Harry Reid (D-NV) noted that both Sen Ensign and Sen Wayne Allard (R-CO), who was also on the Senate floor, are veterinarians. (In comparison, there is one physician, Sen Bill Frist, R-TN.) Sen Robert Byrd (D-WVa), the Senate's longest-serving Democrat and noted Senate historian, joined in the discussion, as the following excerpt* reveals.
Senator Allard (left) with Wags and Senator Craig
MR. REID. It is a rare occasion that we have on the Senate floor two doctors: the doctor from Colorado and the Presiding Officer who is a doctor. They are both doctors of veterinary medicine. I think we should recognize the fact that they are and recognize that their talents are far beyond their medical training. It is unusual to have two doctors on the floor at the same time. I yield the floor to the Senator from Colorado and recognize that my friend, the Presiding Officer, is also a doctor of veterinary medicine.
MR. BYRD. Will the distinguished Senator yield to me briefly?
MR. ALLARD. I am glad to yield to the Senator from West Virginia.
MR. BYRD. I did not know that Senator Allard was a doctor. He has gone up in stature with me since I have learned that. I have a little dog, a little Maltese dog, Billy Byrd. He is approaching his 14th birthday. If I ever saw in this world anything that was made by the Creator's hand that is more dedicated, more true, more undeviant, more faithful than this little dog, I am at a loss to state what it is. ... My wife and I pay some pretty high bills to some of these veterinarians, but we gladly pay them. We love that little dog. ... I wish I could say that I had been a veterinarian. It must be a joy to work with animals, especially with dogs. I believe it was Truman who said: If you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog. ... I take my hat off to the veterinarians, the two of them, the one in the Chair as well. I am glad we have two here. ...
Thank you for the services you perform on creatures that make us happy and that show us God's love and show us how to be honest and true and faithful and guileless.
MR. ALLARD. I thank the Senator from West Virginia, as well as the Senator from Nevada, and in a moment I will recognize the Senator from Florida to comment, too.
I want to invite all of you to join the veterinary caucus with all the favorable comments we are getting here. Before I yield to the Senator from Florida, I want to respond that [Senator Larry Craig, (R-ID)] has a dog by the name of Wags, and Wags comes down the hallway and frequently comes into my office to say hello. We visit with him a little bit. If your dog is ever visiting you in your office, bring him down. We love dogs and would like to have an opportunity to get to know Senator Byrd's dog.
Again, I am glad we have all these animal lovers here in the Senate. I talked to Senator Ensign, who is in the Chair, about facetiously setting up a veterinary caucus. With all these comments, I begin to take it more seriously. We would like to perhaps extend an invitation to all the dog lovers here in the Senate, to see if they would like to join us.
MR. BYRD. I thank the Senator.
* Congressional Record, 107th Congress, 1st session, 2001, Vol 147, pages S692–S695