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Schock’s farewell speech: To those he ‘let down, I will work tirelessly to make it up to you’

WASHINGTON — A somber and sad Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., the subject of a Justice Department criminal investigation, delivered his last House speech on Thursday, saying he was leaving “with sadness and humility” while comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln.

“For those whom I’ve let down, I will work tirelessly to make it up to you. I know that God has a plan for my life,” Schock said.

Without a noticeable sense of awareness of the irony, Schock earlier in his talk praised his fellow Republicans for beginning to “bend the curve on out-of-control spending.”

It was Schock’s own extravagant spending of taxpayer and campaign dollars that got him into trouble.

One way Aaron Schock really is like Abraham Lincoln: Mileage reimbursements

The soon-to-be former Peoria lawmaker, who resigns on March 31, heads into an uncertain future as the Justice Department investigates his lavish use of taxpayer and campaign funds and other business dealings.

Schock started his brief speech at 12:36 eastern time, delivered to an almost empty House chamber because Thursday was the last legislative day of the month. Most members were already scattered for the Easter and Passover holidays.

In departing, Schock advised in his last speech that the House does not work that well, “that this body doesn’t move quickly enough or as efficiently as it could to confront the challenges facing our country. “

Afterward, Schock lingered a bit at the back of the House, chatting with a few colleagues, and then dashed out of the Capitol, with reporters following him down the east steps shouting questions about the criminal probe.

Asked what’s next, Schock said “Easter.” Then he climbed into a waiting white Toyota SUV with Mississippi plates and drove off.

Schock resigned after disclosures in the Chicago Sun-Times about a taxpayer-funded air charter from Peoria to Chicago for a Bears game; a New York taxpayer-paid weekend trip with 10 House staffers; and official mileage claims for a car purchased for Schock’s campaign.

He announced his resignation as the Sun-Times and Politico were working on stories about charging taxpayers for more miles on his 2010 Tahoe than the SUV was ever driven.

The Sun-Times earlier reported the Justice Department probe with a grand jury to hear testimony from witnesses in Springfield on April 7.

Standing in the well of the House for one last time, Schock said, “I leave here with sadness and humility. For those whom I’ve let down, I will work tirelessly to make it up to you. I know that God has a plan for my life,” Schock said, alluding at the end of his speech to the scandal that forced him to resign.

“The Good Book tells us that before ‘I formed you in the womb, I knew you.’ I also know that every person faces adversity in life.

“Abraham Lincoln held this seat in Congress for one term, but few faced as many defeats in his personal business and public life as he did. His continual perseverance in the face of these trials, never giving up, is something all of us Americans should be inspired by, especially when going through a valley in life.

“I believe that through life’s struggles, we learn from our mistakes and we learn more about ourselves, and I know that this is not the end of the story but rather the beginning of a new chapter.

“Thank you for the honor to serve, I’ll look forward to keeping in touch with my friends in this chamber and my friends across the 18th District. May God continue to bless this awesome institution and the important role that it plays for America and the rest of the world.”

Afterward, I asked Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., who was in the chamber for Schock’s speech, for his reaction.

Davis, a friend of Schock, said, “It’s a sad day, again for Illinois. But it’s a day I hope people remember the great things Aaron Schock has done for his constituents in the 18th District.”