A familiar voice is leaving the Senate.
Senators paid tribute Thursday to Kathie Alvarez, the chamber’s first female legislative clerk, who is retiring after 30 years of service.
Among her responsibilities was to call the roll during votes and quorum calls. Her voice, broadcast across the nation on C-SPAN, became a familiar part of the Senate’s milieu. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Alvarez “a bit of a celebrity.”
“Every C-SPAN aficionado knows her voice,” the Kentucky Republican said. “All she has to say is ‘Mr. Alexander, Ms. Ayotte’ and it’s instantly recognizable.”
Alvarez, a Louisiana native, became the Senate’s first female legislative clerk in 2009. Before that, she served as the first female bill clerk. She will be replaced by her deputy, John Merlino.
McConnell praised her diligent work.
“Along with the love of Cajun food, sartorial distinction is one thing Louisianans have become known for,” McConnell said. “A passion for perfection is another. Kathie has maintained a laser-like focus for three decades. That’s good news for the Senate because we rely on her, and the American people rely on her, to ensure that every bill, every amendment and every message from the House is processed perfectly.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid paid tribute to Alvarez Tuesday. The Nevada Democrat missed the latter part of the week due to another eye surgery, but is expected back after the Presidents Day recess.
“We have had a great relationship,” Reid said. “I know nothing about her politics. I just know something about her personality, which is warm. She has a great sense of humor, and I am going to miss her a great deal.”
Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin also saluted Alvarez, and he too focused on her voice.
“Regular C-SPAN viewers, this is your DVR alert; get your TiVo ready,” Durbin said. “After today, you will no longer hear the dulcet voice of Kathie Alvarez calling the roll call in the United States Senate.”
Durbin noted that it was in 1991 when senators first heard a woman’s voice calling the role.
“It was Kathie Alvarez, the first female bill clerk of the United States Senate. What an achievement,” Durbin said.
Senate Chaplain Barry Black also named Alvarez in his opening prayer Thursday.
“And Lord, we thank you for the many years of faithful service by Kathie Alvarez,” Black said.
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