8:30 PM EDT
Charles W. Stenholm, D-TX 17th

Mr. STENHOLM. I thank the gentleman very much for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, it is with very mixed emotions that I join in tonight's Special Order to recognize the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Combest) on his departure from the halls of Congress. I say mixed emotions because, while it is more than fitting for the House to recognize him for his many years of service to this body, both as a staff member and as a Representative, I am sorry to see the departure of a colleague, a neighbor, and a friend.

Many times over the past two Congresses I would, sometime during my speech, say, well, at first it was the first Congress in the history of our Nation, then it was the second, this would have been the third Congress in which one State, Texas, had the chairman and the ranking member of the Committee on Agriculture. At no time in our history has this ever happened. Not only were we from the same State, but we were neighbors and we were friends.

That is the spirit in which I come tonight. Since LARRY came to Congress in 1985, we have had many occasions to work together for the mutual benefit of Texas, our Nation, and particularly our Nation's agriculture.

In fact, it was a year ago this month that the 2002 farm bill was enacted into law, and about a year and a half of the time and effort of the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Combest) went into writing that bill. It was a collaborative effort, very typical of the bipartisan manner for which the Committee on Agriculture is recognized.

As much as I would have enjoyed being the chairman during that period of time, that was not to be; but LARRY made sure that, as ranking member, I was a full participant throughout the legislative process, and I greatly appreciated the opportunity of riding shotgun and working side by side with him in that endeavor.

I do not believe it would be an overstatement tonight to say that without LARRY'S devoted work on that farm bill in a bipartisan way, it would not have become law. I think that is a very fair and accurate statement. Many times we might stretch it a little bit; but knowing as much about the inner workings of what happened in that bill, without the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Combest), we would not have gotten it done. I think the colleagues on the gentleman's side of the aisle agree

and those on my side agree.

LARRY'S departure from the House of Representatives marks the end of a very distinguished record of service to the folks of the 19th Congressional District of Texas. LARRY throughout this time has been a man of great character and sound judgment who has served his constituents well. I personally will miss his company, his counsel, and the true spirit of bipartisanship with which he conducted himself throughout his tenure in Congress.

Sadly, such bipartisanship and good will has increasingly become a rare [Page: H4229]

commodity in the halls of Congress, but not on the House Committee on Agriculture.

LARRY, Cindy and I wish you and Sharon all the best as you embark upon a new chapter in your lives. I hope and trust there will be many more occasions for our paths to cross in the future. It has truly been a pleasure to work with you. We will miss you; but we know, suspect highly, that those paths will cross again in some constructive way. Good luck and God speed to you and Sharon.