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Ranking Member Waters' Statement on the Portrait Unveiling of Former Chairman Barney Frank

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Washington, DC, June 25, 2013 | comments

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, made the following statement today at the portrait unveiling ceremony of former Chairman Barney Frank. The portrait will hang in the main Financial Services Committee hearing room, located in the Rayburn House Office Building.

Barney Frank served as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the state of Massachusetts, from 1981 to 2013; and served as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee from 2007-2011. Frank’s legislative achievements included the landmark Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Statement as prepared for delivery:

I want to welcome everyone here today for a very happy occasion. For 32 years this committee, and the House of Representatives as a whole, was made greater by the presence of Barney Frank.  

It’s fitting that tonight we celebrate Barney’s chairman portrait because his four years as chairman were some of the most important years this Congress and this country has faced. We were all lucky to have him at the helm, and I felt particularly privileged to work with him during those years.

I once asked Barney how much time he spends on being chairman, and he told me at the time that his life was almost totally consumed by it. It was who he was. It was what he cared about. And it showed. 

Throughout our work on Dodd-Frank, Barney worked hard to accommodate other members. He was especially supportive of me on issues that I cared deeply about, such as the establishment of Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion, extractive revenue transparency, and proxy access.

It was our shared commitment to housing for the poor that brought each of us to this committee, but over the years, Barney and I also found common cause in fighting for debt relief for Africa, in a commitment to equality for people both here and abroad, and on a whole range of issues on which Barney led so eloquently.

I want to talk about one of those issues in particular. We all know about Barney’s remarkable intellect and his ability to think fast and talk faster than anyone else in the room. But what makes him truly remarkable is his capacity to care. He cares so much about public policy because he cares so much about people. 

Several years ago, when the House debated a bill to protect LGBT people from discrimination, Barney went to the floor, and he spoke very personally, and very powerfully. 

He told us how he felt an obligation to help others – an obligation to help 15-year-olds who are afraid to go to school because of bullying, an obligation to help people who are afraid they could lose their job because of who they love. He made it clear to us that this was very personal to him. It was as moving a moment as I have ever witnessed on the Floor. He asked us for our help, and we gave it to him.   

Now, I once noted in public that Barney doesn’t suffer fools, and his response was that he liked to make fools suffer. This is true. You were always glad to have him on your side, and he was always in our corner. 

His time here as a colleague and as our chairman has made an indelible mark on all of us in many important ways. And so, I believe it’s very fitting that tonight we are able to have his presence made permanent by this portrait. 

 

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