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Pelosi Floor Speech Honoring Leadership of Barry Sullivan

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today honoring the leadership and public service of Barry Sullivan, Manager of Democratic Cloakroom, who is retiring after 33 years of service to the House.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you, Mr. Keating.  I thank you for yielding.  I thank you and Mr. Capuano and the Members of the Massachusetts delegation for bringing us together to honor a wonderful friend to all of us. 

“Mr. Speaker, in late 1979, the legendary Massachusetts Congressman Joseph Moakley, a colleague to many of us – I had the privilege to call him a colleague – ran into the son of a friend and former colleague, Leo Sullivan, in Boston.  He knew that the young Boston State College student had served as a page on Beacon Hill and had an interest in public service.  He suggested that it was time for this young man to travel to our nation’s capital to serve in a Congress led by another Massachusetts legend, Speaker Tip O’Neill.  That young man was Barry Sullivan.

“When he arrived in Washington the following March, he thought he would spend just a few years here before returning to his beloved South Boston.  Thirty-three years later, he will finally leave his post in the Democratic Cloakroom: an institution in his own right; a source of information for Members.  He leaves as a committed public servant to the Congress and to our country.

“As one of Barry’s former colleagues once said, ‘Down here, Members are looking for somebody who knows what’s going on.’  And Barry always knew – he was the trusted source, has been the trusted source – of what was happening on the floor, what bill was up for a vote, and what issue Members were tackling on any given day.  Barry always knew what was going on in addition to the floor agenda, what was important for Members to know – public service, because public service is in his blood as the son of one of the central players of the mid-20th century in Massachusetts state government. 

“So prominent was Barry’s father, Leo, in local politics that he escorted then-President-elect John Kennedy from Logan Airport to the Boston Garden on election night 1960 – a great honor for a great Massachusetts leader and family.  Barry would come here and be escorting Presidents, Prime Ministers, and kings over and over again, and he did so with grace and commanding respect.

“Boston is in his blood, as a proud native of South Boston, a devoted Red Sox fan – did I say they won the World Series?  But of course, everybody knows that.  Ok, you can cheer for Barry as well as for the Red Sox. 

[Laughter]

“I was at the game.

[Laughter]

“A devoted Red Sox fan, I repeat, a father and husband who takes his family back to his hometown and to Cape Cod every year without fail.  And now, with his career in the Capitol coming to a close, we all know that Barry looks forward to spending as much time as he can on the Cape with his beloved wife, Barbara, and their three sons.

“Barry Sullivan has been an integral part of our team and our system.  He’s been a clearinghouse of information from his first day in the cloakroom to his last as a man in charge.  His service has proven invaluable; his contributions have been incredible; just remarkable.  He gives you the answer before you ask the question.  He anticipates our every need.   

“To Barbara and the whole Sullivan family: thank you for sharing your husband and father with the United States Congress for so long.  To Barry: you have earned the respect of Members of Congress and the gratitude of countless Democrats who have served in this chamber. 

“Thank you for taking a chance, for coming to Washington to serve Tip at the invitation of Joe Moakley – what legends – and for serving us all with grace, good humor, and dedication throughout your tenure in the House of Representatives.  Though you’re leaving us on a day-to-day basis, I hope you will be no stranger to us and hope that you return on many occasions.  Thank you, Barry Sullivan."

[Applause]