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Honoring The Service and Legacy of Barbara Kennelly

Location: Washington, DC

Honoring The Service and Legacy of Barbara Kennelly -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 14, 2004)





THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2004

Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, next Monday the Post Office on Weston Street in Hartford, CT will be renamed in honor of one of Connecticut's most dedicated public servants, Barbara Kennelly. This gesture is a small but lasting tribute to an extraordinary woman who has fully devoted herself to the cause of public service for her city, her state, and her nation.

Considering her roots, Barbara's twenty three years of service to Connecticut should come as no surprise. Born Barbara Ann Bailey, she grew up in one of Connecticut's most well-known and influential families. Her father, John Bailey, was chairman of the state Democratic Party, and later served as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Her mother was active in democratic state politics and her brother served as the chief state attorney for Connecticut. She grew up surrounded by those who dedicated their lives to public service, and Barbara learned well from their example.

Following in her family's footsteps, Barbara was elected to the Hartford City Council in 1975. After serving four years on the council, Barbara was elected Secretary of the State of Connecticut. Continuing her service on behalf of the people of her beloved state, she was elected to Congress in a special election in 1982.

On her arrival in Washington, Barbara quickly rose through the ranks and earned the respect of members from both sides of the aisle. Her seventeen-year record in the House clearly reflects her strong commitment to the needs of working families in Connecticut and the nation. She fought hard for legislation to enforce child support collection, provide tax credits to the working poor and extend health care coverage to uninsured children. While known for her willingness to compromise, she never forgot the needs of the people she represented.

During her time in Congress, Barbara broke the ground that finally brought women into the House leadership. Clearly demonstrating a capacity for pragmatic and dynamic leadership, Barbara was appointed as the third woman in history to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee and the first woman to chair a subcommittee of the House Intelligence Committee. In August 1991, Barbara served as Chief Deputy Majority Whip under Speaker Tom Foley, a post in which she served until her election as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in 1994. With her historic ascension to this post, her colleagues made Barbara the chamber's fourth highest-ranking member, and the first and only woman at that time in the elected leadership.

Again heeding the call to serve the people of Connecticut, Barbara accepted the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1998. Although her run for the governorship was unsuccessful, Barbara was not only to simply fade away into the background.

Reflecting her service as Ranking Democrat on the Social Security subcommittee, President Clinton appointed her Associate Commissioner of the Social Security Administration in 1999. Today, she works tirelessly on behalf of our nation's seniors as President of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

I am truly honored to present the district she so ably served for seventeen years. While Barbara's legacy is so much larger than the bricks and mortar of a post office, it is a lasting tribute to a woman who dedicated her life in service of the people of Connecticut for nearly a quarter of a century.

Barbara's is a presence sorely missed in this chamber, and I urge my colleagues to join me in recognizing the legacy and ongoing service of this truly extraordinary public servant.

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