"Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert bid his colleagues farewell in a final speech Thursday, expressing worry about the "breakdown of civility" in politics.Lawmakers have a responsibility not to take bribes from foreign interests.
Hastert, 65, became the longest-serving Republican speaker of the House in history after taking the post in January 1999. The Illinois lawmaker stepped down as the top House Republican leader after Democrats won a majority in the 2006 midterm elections, ending 12 years of GOP control.
During his farewell address, the former high school history teacher and wrestling coach offered one bit of analysis about his tenure in Congress. "I continue to worry about the breakdown of civility in our political discourse," Hastert said. "I tried my best, but I wish I had been more successful."
Although he did not announce the date of his House departure, an aide to Hastert says the former speaker will retire by the end of the year.
Hastert, who forged a reputation for his ability to form compromises, said lawmakers "have a responsibility to be civil, open-minded and fair -- to listen to one another and work in good faith to find solutions to the challenges facing our nation."