WASHINGTON, D.C. (WHNT) — U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, Alabama’s longest-serving senator in history, said his official goodbye to the upper chamber with a farewell speech Wednesday.

“I want to start off by thanking the people of Alabama, my home state,” Shelby began. “They have put their trust in me for more than 50 years. It is more than I could ever wish for, and this has been truly an experience of a lifetime — something I could have never dreamed.”

First elected in 1986 as a Democrat, Shelby has represented Alabama in the U.S. Senate for 36 years. He switched to the Republican Party in 1994. During his tenure, Shelby held leadership roles on many committees, including Appropriations, Intelligence, Banking, and Rules and Administration.

“During my time in the Senate, I have been given the great opportunity of chairing four committees — four committees — something I couldn’t have believed,” Shelby said. “In these positions of leadership, I have tried to influence legislation that will have a lasting impact, creating conditions to improve our country.”

Prior to his service in the Senate, he served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and two terms in the Alabama Senate.

A notable part of Shelby’s speech emphasized the importance of bipartisanship:

I want to speak about why bipartisanship is important. It is important because it is good for the country. It is important because it brings people together. It is important because we all have our differences in philosophy, but the country, I believe, should be first, the National should be first. It is important, I also believe, because of the oath we take — all of us — when we are sworn into the Senate.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

Shelby’s current Senate colleague, Tommy Tuberville, spoke on Shelby’s legacy ahead of the farewell speech.

“As we bid farewell to Senator Shelby, I encourage all my colleagues to honor his legacy by following his example,” Tuberville said. “Put your family, your country, and your principles first — and the rest will fall into place.”

Shelby also acknowledged her successor, his one-time aide Senator-elect Katie Britt.

“As my days are ticking away, I want to mention my successor that is coming, Senator-elect Katie Britt,” Shelby continued. “She is here today. She will be coming into office. I think she will serve the nation and all of us well. She has a lot of promise.”

“And, importantly I want to thank the people of Alabama for electing me 12 times to public office. It has been the honor of my lifetime,” Shelby concluded. “I yield the floor.”

Shelby will remain in the U.S. Senate until the beginning of the next Congress on January 3, 2023. To see Shelby’s full remarks, click here.