WASHINGTON – The following is the text of Tommy G. Thompson's letter of resignation sent to President Bush on Dec. 3, 2004:
Dear Mr. President,
It was about four years ago this month that I took off from a snowy airport in my beloved Wisconsin to travel to Washington for the honor of being introduced as your nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Since that day, I have been continually humbled by the confidence you have placed in me and my department and by the challenges we have all faced together. With your leadership and through your vision, we have made America healthier, stronger and safer.
There is no doubt that these have been four challenging years filled with unexpected tragedies and unprecedented opportunities. Yet, we have successfully seized on these opportunities to turn tragedy into triumph and problems into solutions, making our country and the world healthier places in the process.
Thus, it is with gratitude and regret that I submit my letter of resignation. With your concurrence, it is my desire to continue to serve you as Secretary until Feb. 4, 2005, or until the Senate confirms my successor.
I thank my family for their love and support and look forward to spending more time with them as I move to the private sector.
Mr. President, you put forth the vision of a compassionate conservative. And our department takes great pride in being your department of compassion. It is here that we work tirelessly to put into practice the compassion of your agenda for America.
Together, we are making the lives of Americans better by investing in the well-being of our people. We were unafraid to touch a third rail, and as a result we are now modernizing Medicare by giving seniors coverage for lifesaving and life-enhancing medicines and preventive care.
The nation is spending more on medical research than at any time in history. We are investing in our long-neglected public health system, making our nation better prepared than ever to respond to terrorist attacks and public health emergencies.
We are developing the new medicines that will protect our citizens from biological agents and disease. We are building and expanding more community health centers than ever, providing a greater safety net of care for more needy Americans.
A record number of children now have health care coverage, and children's immunization rates are at a record high. Drug use among schoolchildren is at a low, and we are making new investments in helping adults overcome their struggles with drugs and alcohol.
We are investing in families by making adoption easier, offering help for healthier marriages, helping former welfare recipients become self-sufficient, and making sure low-income children get a strong head start in life.
We are transforming our health care system and strengthening the quality of care with robust investments in health information technology. We are helping more people gain the Gift of Life through a record number of organ donations and transplants. We are motivating Americans to put their health first by eating better and exercising more, making prevention of disease a household priority.
And we are streamlining our department so we deliver services in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
I have attached a thorough record of our administration's accomplishments in the arenas of health and human services.
To the world, we are bringing a new kind of diplomacy - medical diplomacy. By investing in health care and medical facilities in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Caribbean and other struggling regions, we are showing the compassion of America and its people.
On your behalf, I have traveled to 36 nations offering an open hand of help. We are forging better ties with nations by our willingness to share our great health expertise.
Perhaps nowhere, however, will your investment in medical diplomacy pay greater dividends than your unprecedented investments in fighting HIV/AIDS. No American president, and no intemationalleader, has invested more money or capital in fighting HIV/AIDS than you have.
I have the privilege of serving as chairman of the GlobalAIDS Fund, to which America contributes a third of the resources. This is an important part of your unprecedented $15 billion commitment to the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Your efforts to eradicate this scourge from the earth will be a jewel in your legacy.
The success achieved by your administration thus far would not have been possible without the talents and expertise of this nation's best and brightest public servants - the 67,000 men and women of the Department of Health and Human Services.
You've heard me say often that the best scientists and health care experts in the world work in this department - and this is evidenced by the remarkable work they do every day in service to the American people.
It has been my honor and privilege to serve with them in this dynamic department, and I will miss them all more than they know. They will continue to serve you and this nation well in the next four years, as there is much more to accomplish for the health and safety of our nation.
And I would be remiss not that thank the members of Congress, in both parties, who worked with our department to make this nation healthier and support our efforts to improve the well-being of our citizens.
Mr. President, I do not tender my resignation easily. While these years have been challenging, they have been greatly rewarding. You are a remarkable leader and a good friend. But, after nearly 40 years of public service, it is time for me and my family to move onto the next chapter in our life.
Please know that I will always be there to assist you in any way.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and the American people during such consequential times. May God bless you, your family and the United States of America.
Tommy G. Thompson