Richard B. Cheney photo

Remarks by the Vice President at a Ceremony for the Unveiling of the Official Portrait of Chairman C.W. Bill Young

July 23, 2003

2359 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C.

5:48 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thank you very much. Thank you, Bill. You're doing a superb job as master of ceremonies. Your mom didn't have anything to worry about. (Laughter.)

But it's a special pleasure to come back to the House. And while I serve in the Senate -- and I mean no disrespect to my Senate colleagues here today -- as the President of the Senate, my heart will always be in the House. And it's a special occasion to be invited to come back and celebrate these events with my good friend, with Bill Young, and to have the opportunity to participate in one of these ceremonies. They're rare. I've only done it a couple of times over the years. But it's a privilege, Bill. And I want to thank you for being kind enough to include me today.

As Bill mentioned -- Billy mentioned, Bill, of course, has been in the House now for more than 30 years, dean of the Florida congressional delegation. He's been an outstanding representative not only for the state of Florida, but for the people all across America, and a man who's known in part because of his devotion to certain key issues that he spent a lot of time on -- special expertise, obviously, in defense and national security, which I'll say more about in a minute; but his work over the years on biomedical research, on founding a national registry for bone marrow donors and then so many other areas that left a lasting mark on the health and well being of the people of the United States.

At a time of testing for the nation, such as we're going through now, Bill Young has been a crucial supporter and, indeed, a leader in rebuilding the strength and morale of America's Armed Forces. Whether it was by improving readiness, or by enhancing the quality of life of our military families.

Bill and I arrived in Washington within about two years of each other. I was a very junior staffer, joined the Nixon administration early 1969. I used to be a chart-flipper in Cabinet meetings. (Laughter.) That's how I got my training in those early days.

Of course, Bill arrived as a newly elected member of the House after the 1970 election. I don't think either one of us then ever dreamed that we'd end up where we are today, with Bill as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and me serving as Vice President. I know how I got here. I was asked to run the search committee. (Laughter.) And Bill, I'm sure, is here because of his great leadership skills and his devotion to the causes of the House Appropriations Committee. But he's had a distinguished career, clearly been one of the most important and powerful members of the House of Representatives during his years here as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and a vital force in the Congress and in the government itself.

We -- as Billy mentioned, we served together in the House for over 10 years. Bill, I learned early on, was one of those members you could go to for advice. By the time I got elected to the House in 1978, Bill had already been here several terms. But when you're a freshman in the House you look for people you can sort of key off of, people whose judgment you trust and respect, members who seem to get it right more often than not. And you need that kind of guidance. You can't always ask them how to vote obviously. But on the other hand, once the electronic system went in, you could walk on the floor and had a tough vote, you could look up, and if you could see the green light on Bill's name on the board, you knew that was probably a pretty sound vote.

He spent a great deal of time working with all of us over the years. He was always one of those members who put the national interest above all else, above partisanship, above personal interest. He always brought a spirit of fairness and civility to everything he did, as he's continued to do during his years of service now as chairman of the committee.

I especially want to thank Bill for the role he played back during the period of time when I was privileged to serve as Secretary of Defense. I don't want to offend any of my friends on the authorizing committees who are here today, but I learned early on that in terms of getting things done that I had to get done, that one of the most important things I could spend time on was working with the members of the Defense Appropriations Sub-Committee in the House and the Senate. The Senate side, of course, I got to work with great senators like Ted Stevens and Danny Inouye. And on the House side, a number of you here today were crucial to my success as Secretary of Defense. And Bill was right at the head of the list, along with Jack Murtha, Norm Dicks, Jerry Lewis and so many others of you who served and have served on the sub-committee over the years.

To the extent that we were prepared in this particular time of testing for the nation with the kind of military forces that have been doing such a sterling and outstanding job for America around the world, it's in no small part due to the enormous vision and the foresight and the decisions that have been made over the years by the members of the Defense Appropriations Sub-Committee that Bill served on so ably for so many years.

Bill, I know when you first came to Washington all those years ago, you never imagined that your portrait would become part of the congressional art collection. This is a proud moment for you, for your family, for all of us who are fortunate enough to consider you a friend. You've got our deepest respect and our lasting gratitude for your lifetime of service to the people of the United States. Thank you very much and congratulations. (Applause.)

END 5:53 P.M. EDT

Richard B. Cheney, Remarks by the Vice President at a Ceremony for the Unveiling of the Official Portrait of Chairman C.W. Bill Young Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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