Tribute to Departing Members of the Pennsylvania Delegation

Tribute to Departing Members of the Pennsylvania Delegation  (1994)  by John Patrick Murtha

Source: 1994 Congressional Record, Vol. 140, Pg. S71 [1]

Tribute to Departing Members of the Pennsylvania Delegation



Tuesday, November 29, 1994

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Murtha] is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. MURTHA. Mr. Speaker, as Dean of the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation for the 103rd Congress, I'd like to take this opportunity to salute five members of the delegation who will not be returning to the House of Representatives for the 104th Congress.

Lucien Blackwell, Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, Austin Murphy, Tom Ridge, and Rick Santorum have all been important parts of the delegation over the past two years. The work they've done for their constituents and the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been invaluable, and we will miss their contributions greatly. Our delegation has always put the interests of Pennsylvania above party or ideological interests, and these individuals have continued that tradition, which has proven so important to Pennsylvanians.

I'd like to say a few additional words about the members from our side of the aisle who are leaving; Austin Murphy, Lucien Blackwell, and Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky.


Representative Austin Murphy is retiring from the House of Representatives this year after nine terms. Austin and I have been through many battles together on the House Floor, as we have represented adjoining districts which have suffered through difficult economic times as a result of the slump in the coal and steel industries.

Like any Marine, Austin is a fighter, and his fights have been on behalf of the people of Southwestern Pennsylvania, especially those whose voices are not always heard over the din of the debate in Congress. No coal miner with Black Lung, no steelworker facing a layoff, no minimum wage worker struggling to make ends meet ever had a stronger champion than Austin Murphy. From his position on the Education and Labor Committee and as Chairman of the Labor Standards, Occupational Safety and Health Subcommittee, Austin fought for workers' rights. He fought to make the minimum wage more of an affordable living wage, he fought to ensure that coal miners would be eligible for Black Lung benefits, he fought to make sure workers would not fear for their lives or their health every time they punched the time clock.

Working Americans are Austin Murphy's people. Everyone who's struggling to pay the bills each month while raising a family and worrying about their parents making ends meet in retirement should thank Austin Murphy, because he dedicated his career in the House of Representatives to making their lives better. Austin knows the people of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and he knows the difficulties of families fighting to make it in a tough economy. His work has made a difference for these people.

We will continue the fight for Austin Murphy's people in the House, but without him to lead the charge, it won't be the same. I will personally miss Austin's friendship, but the Congress as a whole will miss his leadership and commitment to causes and people that are too often overlooked. We wish him well in his retirement, and we say to him that Congress is a better place for his service here.


Lucien Blackwell came to the House of Representatives three years ago to fill the seat of Bill Gray. These were big shoes to fill, and Lucien has more than lived up to the challenge.

After distinguished service with the United States Army in Korea, work as a labor union official, service in the Pennsylvania State House, and a career in public service in Philadelphia, Lucien brought a unique perspective to the House of Representatives. His knowledge of the city of Philadelphia and his emphasis on the need to refurbish and invigorate our inner cities was invaluable in his work on the Public Works and Transportation Committee.

Lucien came to the Pennsylvania State Legislature just before I left to come to Congress. He went to Harrisburg with the reputation as a street fighter, as the kind of representative who's first and only concern is what is best for the people who sent him to government. He has never failed to maintain that attitude, whether in Harrisburg or in Washington.

Lucien won't be returning to the 104th Congress, and we wish him well in his future endeavors. His work on behalf of the people of Philadelphia in this body won't soon be forgotten, and all of us owe a debt of gratitude to him for reminding us that our jobs are as representatives of the people who send us here. Lucien never has lost sight of this, and he continues to be a fighter for the causes and the people he represents.


There have been many individuals who have served only one term in Congress. Abraham Lincoln is the most prominent example. And while I'm not predicting that Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky will have quite the role after she leaves Congress that Lincoln had, I do feel that this bright, hard-working woman will continue to have a positive impact on Pennsylvania and the United States after she leaves Congress.

Marjorie brought a unique perspective to the House of Representatives, and opened our eyes to many issues and problems which had not received the attention they deserved. Her family has influenced her a great deal, and the knowledge and experience she has gained from the 11 children she and her husband have raised certainly inspired her to become active on women and children's issues in the House.

We will all miss Marjorie's hard work on issues of importance to Pennsylvania, and we'll also miss her ability to say just the right thing to loosen the tension at a Pennsylvania delegation gathering or a caucus meeting. Her work on the Energy and Commerce Committee was important to her constituents and to all of Pennsylvania, and her focus on economic development will continue to benefit the State.

We wish Marjorie all the best in her future activities. She has been a positive influence on the House of Representatives, and I predict that she will continue to play a significant role in improving the lives of people in Pennsylvania and all across the Nation.

Mr. McDADE. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take this opportunity to recognize the contributions of the five House Members of the Pennsylvania delegation who are leaving Congress this year.

It has been my pleasure as the senior Member of the delegation to work with each of these outstanding individuals--Austin Murphy, Tom Ridge, Lucien Blackwell, Rick Santorum and Marjorie Margolies- Mezvinsky.

While I was not in agreement with each and every one of my colleagues on all of the issues that came before the House, I am proud to say that, more often than not, we put partisanship aside to promote the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth. I know that their replacements will continue this tradition in the 104th Congress.

Two of my colleagues, Tom Ridge and Rick Santorum, will continue to serve in public life as Governor and Senator. They have been outstanding young Members of this institution, and I am pleased that there talents and energies will continue to benefit the citizens of Pennsylvania.

My colleague from Monongahela, Austin Murphy, has distinguished himself through his work as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor Standards and Occupational Health and Safety. He directed the effort to reform the Black Lung benefits program and he was the lead sponsor of minimum wage bills in 1989 and 1990.

The other departing colleagues, Lucien Blackwell and Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, have had shorter tenures, but their service has been marked by an admirable dedication to their constituents and a commitment to the policies they felt would best serve the citizens of Pennsylvania and the Nation.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have served with all five of the departing Members. They have been a credit to the U.S. House of Representatives, were important Members of the delegation and I wish them well in their future endeavors.

Mr. BORSKI. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay special tribute to my colleagues from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who will be departing Congress when we adjourn today. It has been a great privilege and honor to serve with these dedicated individuals, and I wish them great success in their future endeavors.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, five members of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation will be departing the House and one member will be departing the Senate when the 103rd Congress adjourns this week. Some have served a long career in the House, dating back to 1976, while others have been here for only a very brief time. Each one of these individuals, however, has served their constituents well through their leadership, hard work and dedicated service.

As one of the most senior members of the Pennsylvania delegation, Congressman Austin Murphy will be retiring after he casts his vote today. I have known Austin since we first served together in the Pennsylvania State legislature, when he was a State Senator and I was a State Representative. Since he was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 1976, Austin Murphy has passionately fought for the best interests of his constituents in western Pennsylvania.

Austin Murphy has always been there for working Americans when their interests have been threatened. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor Standards, he has fought to improve the working conditions, health, safety, pay and benefits of all working Americans. Austin's service to Pennsylvania and to the country will surely be missed.

Congressman Tom Ridge will be ending a distinguished career in the House, only to start a new career as governor of Pennsylvania. Tom and I were elected to the House in the same class in 1982. Since then, we have worked very effectively together on issues of importance to the state--even though we sit on different sides of the aisle. I remember very vividly when during our first term together, Tom invited me to co- chair a field hearing of the Select Committee on Aging. I agreed to participate, much to the chagrin of locally-elected Democrats in Tom's district.

Tom Ridge has served his constituents well as a member of Congress. During his tenure, he has shown how effective bipartisan leadership can lead to responsible legislation. I wish him great luck and success as Governor of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania will also be losing one of its members from Philadelphia, Congressman Lucien Blackwell. While he served only briefly in Congress, Lou has served Philadelphia as a public servant for a long time. He has fought hard for working Philadelphians, first as a labor union president, then as a State Representative and City Councilman.

I enjoyed serving with Lou Blackwell and will greatly miss the passion and dedication that he brought to his job. A one-time boxer, Lou never lost his tireless spirit in his many years of public service. With Lou's departure, Philadelphia will certainly be losing a true fighter in Congress.

The Pennsylvania delegation will also be losing one of its newest members, Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky. In 1992, Marjorie defied all the odds by breaking a 76-year Republican reign over the 13th Congressional District. Since that time, Marjorie has worked to build consensus around important family legislation, including full funding for Head Start and family and medical leave.

In her two years in Congress, Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky left a lasting imprint on American politics and government. I am sure she will succeed in whatever path she chooses next.

While Congressman Rick Santorum will be leaving the House, he will not be leaving Congress. As Pennsylvania's newly-elected Senator, Rick will still be working closely with us on issues of importance to the state. Nevertheless, we will certainly miss the energy and hard work that Rick Santorum brought to his job every day as a member of the House.

Finally, Mr. Speaker we would be mistaken not to pay tribute to Senator Harris Wofford. Six months after he was appointed to fill the vacancy left by the death of Senator John Heinz, Harris shocked the nation in a stunning upset in a special election. His distinguished career dates back to the Kennedy Administration, when Harris served as a special assistant for civil rights. Harris also helped to establish the Peace Corps.

Prior to his election in 1991, Harris served as Pennsylvania's Secretary of Labor and Industry, where he fought for the interests of the state's working families. He took that dedication with him to Washington, fighting to make health care accessible and affordable for every working American. During his tenure in Washington, Harris had many legislative accomplishments, including the National Service legislation which was enacted last year.

The members of the delegation will remember in particular how well Harris Wofford worked the House in behalf of the interests of our State. His knowledge, intelligence, dedication to public service, and ability to work with others will be sorely missed in Congress.

Mr. Speaker, each of these departing members of the Pennsylvania delegation made a lasting impact with their service in Congress. Those of us who will serve in the 104th Congress will be looking forward to working with their successors next year. On behalf of the delegation, I wish Austin Murphy, Tom Ridge, Lucien Blackwell, Marjorie Margolies- Mezvinsky, Rick Santorum and Harris Wofford the best of luck in the new challenges in life before them.

Mr. HOLDEN, Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I bid goodbye to several of my colleagues in the Pennsylvania Delegation. During my first term in Congress, it has been my great pleasure to serve with such a fine group of individuals.

Austin Murphy has been a good friend and a wise counselor as I have learned my way around Capitol Hill. Austin has always had good advice for me, and has represented his district well for 18 years.

Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky has been a great friend as a fellow freshman member. I have enjoyed working with her to represent the people of Pottstown, PA, which we share in Montgomery County.

Lucien Blackwell has been a hardworking champion for the working men and women of Pennsylvania and will be greatly missed.

We are also fortunate to have two delegation members moving on to other offices. I have enjoyed serving with Tom Ridge and look forward to working with him for the people of Pennsylvania. I also look forward to continuing to work with Rick Santorum to make life better for our constituents.

I have the greatest confidence that all of these people will continue to excel in their individual lives. They are all fine public servants and it has been an honor for me to serve in Congress with them. I will miss all of them.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).