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Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, John Paul Hammerschmidt is 90. There are many colleagues here in this Chamber, who serve in this body today, who worked alongside him either during their service in the House or when they were in the Senate. He is one of the Arkansas greats. He served northwest Arkansas, which is the Third Congressional District, 26 years in the Congress.
Looking back at his career, John Paul once said, ``The only reason people should be in public office is to purely serve other people.'' Indeed, he set the bar for constituent service--from delivering a Social Security check to a senior bogged down in bureaucracy or fighting for disability benefits for a veteran. Today, each of us in Arkansas congressional delegation tries to emulate his legendary casework management.
One of John Paul's most significant contributions was preserving the Buffalo River as a free-flowing stream. According to the Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History, John Paul first floated the Buffalo at age 12 after taking wood from his father's lumberyard to build himself a boat. Nearly 40 years later, he established the Buffalo as the first National River. This was not an easy achievement, but one that was built with persistence and through relationships within the community. Today, tens of thousands of Arkansas families, including mine, enjoy floating the Buffalo National River.
John Paul also used his time in Congress to help northwest Arkansas expand its infrastructure to keep up with the region's fast growth. It is one of the fastest growing sections of the country. As a member of the Public Works Committee, John Paul was credited with securing bipartisan support on key infrastructure legislation. We could use a little of his magic today. You can't go far in northwest Arkansas without seeing his impact. We have the John Paul Hammerschmidt Highway, an access road to Carter Field near Rogers, an industrial park at Diamond City, JPH Plaza, the John Paul Hammerschmidt Business and Conference Center at North Arkansas College in Harrison, John Paul Hammerschmidt Lake at Fort Smith and the JPH Federal Building in Fayetteville.
Upon John Paul's retirement, former Congressman, Commerce and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives, saying:
There is no individual in the House who is more loved and respected than John Paul Hammerschmidt. His honesty, gentleness, decency, and integrity are second to none. Don't be swayed by his quiet manner, because underneath is a man with strong convictions, a sense of purpose, and a keen desire to get things done.
It is fair to say that John Paul never actually retired. He remains involved in many civic organizations, including the Northwest Arkansas Council and March of Dimes. Higher education continues to be a priority. John Paul serves on not one but two boards of trustees--the Board of Trustees at the University of the Ozarks and he is a Trustee of Arkansas State University.
John Paul Hammerschmidt has spent decades serving others and giving back to his community. I am pleased to have this opportunity to pay tribute to all he has achieved so far and to wish him a happy 90th birthday and many more years of health and happiness.
Mr. President, I yield the floor. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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