Sen. Jon Kyl reflects on retirement, last vote in Congress

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Wednesday was Sen. Jon Kyle's last day on the job.

On Feb, 10, 2011, Kyl announced that he would retire from public service in January.

"There comes a time when you have to consider other things," Kyl said during the February news conference. "Carol and I have concluded that this is the time of us to end my public service in January 2013. ... There is no reason other than the fact that I think it's time.

Now retirement day has arrived.

Kyl, who represented Arizona on Capitol Hill for  25 years, shared his thoughts on his last hours in office and his final vote in Congress, approving the bill to avoid the fiscal cliff.

"I'm not sure I'm ever going to be ready [for retirement], but the reality is at noon today John McCain and I will walk Jeff Flake down the aisle and he'll be sworn in, and I'll be a former senator. And that's just fine," Kyl told 3TV's Scott Pasmore during his final hours on the job.

"I never dreamed that at 2 a.m. on New Year's Day I would cast my last vote as a senator and it would be to prevent us from going over the fiscal cliff," he said.

"What people have to realize about that vote is that it was the best that could be done under the circumstances, which didn't make it very good. The circumstances were that everyone was going to have a huge tax increase on Jan. 1 if we did not act, do something. ... Under the circumstances, it was something which I felt  important to support."

Kyl ended his final term on Hill as Senate Majority Whip, which made him the No. 2 Republican in the Senate. Before being elected to the Senate in 1994, Kyl served four terms in the House, representing Arizona’s District 4.

"It's been a real honor for me [to serve], Kyl continued. "I'm just very appreciative to the people of Arizona for giving me the opportunity."

Flake, who was elected to take Kyle's Senate seat, will be sworn in with dozens of other freshman Wednesday.