8:39 PM EDT
Mac Thornberry, R-TX 13th

Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Virginia, the chairman, for taking this time to pay tribute to our departing Member, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Combest).

Mr. Speaker, my connections with LARRY go back some distance. We were raised in towns about 30 miles apart in the Texas panhandle and our families knew each other, but I really got to know him when I went to work for him as his administrative assistant in 1985, shortly after he was first elected to Congress.

Of course, LARRY was not just any freshman Congressman. He had worked for Senator John Tower and came to Congress with that background, experience, and network all working for him. Needless to say, I learned a lot and benefited tremendously from my time as part of the Combest team.

For the last 8 1/2 years, LARRY and I have represented adjoining districts, and even shared in the representation of several cities and counties. I have continued to learn from him and to benefit from our work together.

Mr. Speaker, LARRY COMBEST'S public record of accomplishment is well known in Washington and in Texas. From leadership positions, such as chairman of the select Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and then chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, he has made a bright mark on the public policy agenda of the last decade.

The farm bill, which he shepherded through the 107th Congress, was landmark legislation, important not just to agriculture but to the country's economy and to the health and standard of living of all Americans.

But along the way, as he was leaving his mark on public policy for the Nation, he was providing outstanding representation to the people of the 19th Congressional District of Texas. Every day he was their advocate. Every day he was their voice. Every day he was their biggest fan.

Of course, none of us do this job alone. Other than the handicap of a certain AA in the middle of the 1980s, LARRY has been fortunate to have an outstanding group of dedicated public servants assisting him. And I think it is important to mention those that have been with LARRY nearly 20 years: Lynn Cowart, Patti Murphy, Jenny Welch, Mary Whistler, Jay Ibarra, Jimmy Clark.

Any Member of the House or Senate would be fortunate indeed to have such dedicated, loyal, capable staff members.

In addition, LARRY has been fortunate to have outstanding help on the political side. Jane Anne Stinnett has been the director of LARRY'S team since the beginning of his political career. I have never met anyone who works harder or cares more in such a selfless way. She is a remarkable lady, and it is a combination of LARRY'S good fortune and good judgment that led to Jane Anne playing a key role in LARRY'S political and public life for 20 years. [Page:


Lisa Nowlin has also played an important part in LARRY'S political world, as has Ken Towery. Mr. Speaker, it is impossible for me to catalog the career and contributions of Ken Towery, from Pulitzer Prize winner to chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Among other things, he has helped guide the tremendously successful political career of LARRY COMBEST, among others.

It is said that first-rate people hire first-rate people, while second-rate people hire third-rate people. If that is true, LARRY COMBEST ranks at the top because he has truly had first-rate people working with him throughout his career.

[Time: 20:45]

Finally, one cannot speak about LARRY COMBEST without acknowledging the central role played by his wife, Sharon. Their partnership made all of LARRY'S other accomplishments possible.

Mr. Speaker, LARRY COMBEST has been a caring mentor, an outstanding representative, a thoughtful leader and a good friend. Like so many other Members and friends, I will miss having him around Washington, but I will also know that his impact on the lives of so many people in Texas and throughout the Nation will last for many years to come. I thank the gentleman.