Washington, D.C. -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon on a resolution in tribute to former Congressman Jack Kemp of New York, who passed away last Saturday, May 2.
“Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honor and a personal privilege to join our colleagues on the floor of the House today to pay tribute to the life and celebrate all that we knew and loved about Jack Kemp. Our Members have spoken with great eloquence, with great emotion, with great knowledge of the contribution that Jack Kemp made to our country.
“He was a formidable Member of Congress -- I fortunately came to Congress just in time to overlap with his leadership and service here. So I saw firsthand the leadership and skill and intellect that he brought to his work.
“He was a gentleman; he was civil at all times; he commanded respect on both sides of the aisle by dint of his character, his personality, and his commitment to what he believed in. And he was an articulate spokesperson for what he believed in and a respectful opponent of other views.
“The story of his exploits on the football field are just incredible and his first game with the Buffalo Bills -- it's just historic and remarkable and reading about that people have said: ‘What he lacked in size and weight on the field, he made up for in intellect.' In intellect -- he was a smart player and was able to pull off great victories right from the start as a Buffalo Bill.
“I heard the emotion in Mr. Lungren's voice when I went over to thank our colleague yesterday for the moment of silence that Peter King requested and that Mr. Rangel spoke to. I went over to thank him, and Mr. Lungren said, ‘Don't forget, he's a Californian.' And I said, ‘I know -- he was born in Los Angeles.' We take great pride in that.
“On both the gridiron and in the halls of Congress, Jack Kemp was a voice for social equality. Anybody who knew him, knew that. From demanding that the American Football League integrate its all-star game -- to insisting that his party remain true to the roots of the party of Lincoln.
“We all know his commitment to supply-side and his accomplishment with Kemp-Roth -- imagine having his name on that.
“He was a very respected secretary of HUD -- of Housing and Urban Development. When he was appointed, people across America knew that they had a friend at the Cabinet table, that they had a friend in the secretary's office.
“He leaves behind a legacy in the football record books, of course, and in the history of our nation.
“Anyone of us who served with him -- and I do believe that we all did -- because his legacy lives on here and so that we all can have the privilege of calling him colleague. Those of us who did have the privilege of serving with him know what a great honor that was.
“And so I hope that it is a comfort to his family, his wife Joanne, whom he adored -- everybody who knew him knew that -- his four children: Jeff, Jimmy, Jennifer and Judith --and his 17 grandchildren. He had enough enthusiasm and love and personality to embrace 17 grandchildren -- not many people can make that claim. I hope it's a comfort to his entire family that so many people deeply, deeply, sincerely mourn their loss and are praying for him at this sad time.
“Mr. Rangel, at the request of Mr. Boehner, we will have a bipartisan delegation attending the services on Friday to celebrate the life of Jack Kemp. He was a patriot, he loved America, and with his service and leadership to our country, God truly did bless America.”