8:44 PM EDT
Gilbert Gutknecht, R-MN 1st

Mr. GUTKNECHT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding to me.

I am so honored to be here tonight to pay tribute to our friend, LARRY COMBEST. A lot has already been said, and I do not want to be redundant and repeat some of the things that have been said, but I would like to mention a couple of things.

One is that he is probably one of the best dressers in the U.S. Congress. I have been with him at meetings with farmers, and he is always appropriately but the best dressed person there. And I think anybody who knows LARRY knows that I am saying exactly the truth.

The other thing I should mention about LARRY is the first time I ever met him was for a retreat for Republicans at some god-awful Xerox center about 50 miles west of here. It was my first chance to spend any time with LARRY, and the one thing that was very obvious to me in our first real meeting and discussion, he is an incredibly good listener. Now, in this town that is a quality that is not developed in many of us, not the way it should be. But LARRY is an amazing listener.

He listens to what people have to say, and it is reflected in the success that he has had in his congressional career.

He came from west Texas. The district that he represents is one of the biggest energy-producing districts in the country, and yet he took the time to listen to our farmers and to other people on the importance of biofuels and ethynyl and biodiesel and came to the conclusion that it made an awful lot of sense long term for our energy policy. He did not put his own parochial interests above what was in the best interests of American agriculture.

So much has already been said, but it was because of that deep feeling that he was able to go to the Committee on the Budget a few years ago and get an unprecedented $73.5 billion out of the fiscal year 2001 budget so that we could create that farm bill. And he taught us so much about what it takes to make a farm bill, but it was his character that pushed it all the way through, and I mean that. Because passing a farm bill is much tougher than I ever thought. What he did was he demonstrated one

of those things that we need to learn more about here in Washington and that is he was firm on principle but flexible on policy; and, ultimately, it was his vision of this farm bill that really won the day.

Now, LARRY, we are going to miss you a lot. I am going to miss you more than you can even imagine. We will miss you a lot more than you will miss us. Certainly you deserve a little respite from this rat race. I can only say that I hope that you will not forget us rats.

Thank you very much and God bless you.