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Public Statements

Recognizing the Life of Congressman Ed Roybal

Location: Washington, DC

RECOGNIZING THE LIFE OF CONGRESSMAN ED ROYBAL -- (House of Representatives - November 15, 2005)


Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, Edward Roybal was a man of dignity and determination. I had the great pleasure of serving in Congress with him for 10 years. During that time, we worked very closely on immigration issues and on many matters affecting Los Angeles and California. He was not only a colleague, but my mentor and my friend.

Ed served his country in the Army during WorId War II and returned to serve it as one of America's political trailblazers.

Beginning with his first election to the Los Angeles City Council in 1949, Ed's distinguished career in politics spanned more than six decades. He was the first Hispanic elected to the Council since 1881 and he served there for four terms. It would take 23 additional years before another Mexican American took a seat on the City Council.

Although ``just'' a city official, Ed was a vociferous critic of the excesses of the House Un-American Activities Committee--and Jewish leaders in Los Angeles well remember how he stepped forward in the early 1950s to welcome the prime minister of Israel to the City of Angels.

In 1962, he was elected to Congress--the first Hispanic from California to serve in Congress since 1879. From that first campaign, the support given him by his constituents was unwavering. He never received less than 66 percent in a general election. The three times he was challenged in a primary, he won by more than 80 percent.

From his position as chairman of the Appropriation Committee's Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government, he sought funding for Alzheimer's victims, and for Alzheimer's disease research.

He introduced a medigap proposal, and had a universal health care bill. He promoted a measure to offset a national nursing shortage by providing funds to recruit and raise the salaries of nurses.

He also took on the cause of mental health treatment, passing provisions that expanded demonstration projects for rural mental health care and establishing a national mental health education program.

In 1985, he succeeded Representative Claude Pepper as chairman of the Select Committee on Aging. The two of them worked long and hard to provide funding for long-term health care for the chronically ill. In the 101st Congress, he helped enact legislation that reversed a 1989 Supreme Court ruling allowing age-based discrimination in employee benefits.

As a founding member and the first chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Ed mounted strong opposition to the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration bill because it imposed

sanctions on U.S. employers who hired illegal immigrants. He worked against this provision with such intensity that it had to be brought up in three Congresses--two as Simpson-Mazzoli and one as Simpson-Rodino--before it finally won passage. I supported it, and learned in the process, that he could be not only a good friend, but a worthy adversary.

After his retirement from Congress, Ed maintained his interest in health care and public health programs and to this end, he founded the Edward R. Roybal Institute for Applied Gerontology at UCLA. The Centers for Disease Control named its Atlanta campus after him and named him their ``Champion of Prevention''--an honor reserved for individuals who have made significant contributions to public health. He was also honored by President Clinton with the highest civilian award in the Nation--the Presidential Medal of Freedom-- for his ``exemplary deeds of service for our Nation.''

No award meant more to him than the affection and respect of his family. He was enormously proud of his three children, LUCILLE, Lillian and Edward, Jr.--and I am certain that he was greatly pleased that his oldest daughter followed him into public service and into this great body, where U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard serves with dedication and distinction and where she is one of my favorite colleagues.

I am privileged today to tell you of my enormous regard and high esteem for Edward R. Roybal--a mentor for a whole generation of Hispanic community leaders, a prominent national advocate for the elderly and the infirm, and a great champion for civil rights and social justice.

Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to the life of my former colleague, Edward Ross Roybal.

[Page: H10207]

Ed Roybal lived an extraordinary life. As a young man growing up during the Great Depression, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. Later he served his country in World War II.

He made his jump into politics--and into history--in 1949. Ed was elected to the Los Angeles City Council, becoming the Council's first Hispanic Member in over 100 years. After 13 years of distinguished service to Los Angeles, Ed was elected to the House of Representatives.

From 1963 to 1993, Ed Roybal served this House--and his constituents--with distinction. He was a quiet power on the Appropriations Committee and used his enormous influence to help those who needed help the most. He worked tirelessly for funding health and civil rights programs and spearheaded efforts to restore funding for programs benefiting the nation's elderly population. He was ultimately successful in preserving the widely used Meals on Wheels program.

In 1976, Ed was one of the founding members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and served as its first chair. He was also one of the founding members of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, NALEO, as well as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

After deciding not to run for re-election in 1992, Ed's daughter, Lucille Roybal-Allard was elected to Congress to carry on Ed's essential work.

His service to his community did not end when he left public office. In 1993, Ed established a non-profit research organization committed to efficient health and human service delivery to the elderly. The center is now known as the Edward R. Roybal Institute for Applied Gerontology. In 2001, Ed Roybal received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Clinton. And in 2004, the Mexican-American Political Association honored him as a ``Latino Legend of the 20th Century.''

Ed Roybal will always be remembered as a dedicated community activist and a devoted public servant who always made the needs of those he served paramount. His life and work will continue to serve as an example to us all. I was proud to have served in the House with him and I consider him a friend and mentor.


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