3:10 PM EDT

Bill Sali, R-ID 1st

Mr. SALI. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor one of Fairbury, Illinois' most famous citizens, and that was Dr. Francis Townsend. He was an American physician best known for creating the Townsend Old-age Revolving Pension plan and for spurring social movement that advocated for benefits for the elderly during the 1930s.

Dr. Townsend, the son of a farmer, grew up in Fairbury, Illinois, and attended Omaha Medical College in 1917. Shortly after becoming a physician, he served in the Army Medical Corps during World War I. After leaving the Army, he began a medical practice in Long Beach, California. When this was not successful, he obtained employment as the assistant city health director. Sadly, due to the Great Depression, he lost that job and was forced into retirement.

In 1933, Dr. Townsend witnessed something extremely heartbreaking but not uncommon during the Great Depression when he saw three old ladies searching through trash cans in his back alley for food. This became a watershed moment for the doctor. In response to what he observed, and his inner drive to help others, he decided to become involved in politics. Later that year he created the Townsend Plan, which proposed creating a Federal pension of $200 a month for every citizen 60 years old and older

on the condition that the money would be spent within 30 days in order to stimulate the economy.

By 1934, through his leadership and determination to help the downtrodden, the plan generated a great deal of support and gave rise to the establishment of at least 5,000 ``Townsend clubs'' nationwide. At the height of popularity, membership in the clubs totaled over 2 million people.

By 1935, an additional 25 million Americans signed petitions to Congress [Page: H6592]

and the White House supporting the implementation of Dr. Townsend's plan. He became such a national celebrity by this time that he testified before Congress.

Thanks to Dr. Townsend's efforts, his social crusades sparked a national antipoverty movement in 1933 that likely contributed to the expedited passage of Franklin D. Roosevelt's Social Security Act of 1935, one of the major initiatives of the New Deal.

Dr. Townsend was a steadfast leader and original thinker. His efforts to fight poverty during our Nation's worst economic crisis and his exemplary civic activism are an example for us all.

Naming the Fairbury, Illinois, post office after one of its most famous citizens during the sesquicentennial anniversary of Fairbury is a fitting celebration of both Dr. Townsend's contributions to the city and to this important milestone.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

3:13 PM EDT

Danny Davis, D-IL 7th

Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I would just close by noting that here is an excellent example of a citizen with an idea, an idea that was promulgated into legislation, legislation that all of us, if we live to be 65 or somewhat close to, benefit from. And so I think it is indeed appropriate.

Again, I want to thank Senator Durbin for introducing this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.