(Senate - September 13, 2012)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.


[Pages S6332-S6333]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I would like to take a moment to thank a 
man who has been a good friend to me and a strong advocate for working 
people in our home State of Illinois, across America and beyond.
  Congressman Jerry Costello has represented the 12th Congressional 
District of Illinois in the House of Representatives for nearly a 
quarter century. We served together for 8 years in the House, from 1988 
to 1996.
  Congressman Costello will be retiring at the end of this Congress. He 
has flown home nearly every weekend for 24 years. He and I have shared 
more flights between Washington and Illinois than either of us can 
count. I will miss his company on those flights, and all of us in the 
Illinois congressional delegation will miss his leadership and good 
counsel in our ranks.
  Jerry Costello and I were both born in East St. Louis, IL, which was 
a hard-scrabble, working class town even back then. Jerry's family 
lived in Holy Angels Parish and I was a St. Elizabeth Parish kid, but 
we were both taught by the Marianist brothers at Assumption High 
School, home of the Pioneers.
  Jerry's family moved to Belleville, IL, when Jerry was in high school 
and his dad was elected St. Clair County sheriff. In seventh grade, he 
met the love of his life, Georgia Cockrum. They married when they were 
just 18.
  Jerry put himself through college working as a court bailiff. He also 
worked as a deputy sheriff, probation officer and court administrator.
  In 1980 he was elected St. Clair County Board chairman, making him 
CEO of one of Illinois' largest counties.
  In 1988 he won a special election to fill the term of a longtime 
Congressman who had died in office. Mel Price was a veritable legend 
who had served in Congress since before Jerry Costello was born.
  I remember when Jerry Costello was sworn in. I was one of the newer 
members of the Illinois delegation back then. Welcoming him to our 
delegation that day were Illinois Senators Paul Simon and Alan Dixon, 
along with Congressmen Sid Yates, Frank Anunzio, Ken Gray and me.
  We kidded Jerry and called him ``Landslide'' because of his narrow 
margin of victory. It was the one and only time in his congressional 
career that he had a close election.
  The 12th Congressional District in southern and southwest Illinois 
runs along the Mississippi River, from Alton south to Cairo. It is a 
mix of agricultural and industrial communities including East St. 
Louis, Belleville, Carbondale and Granite City.
  People there don't care much about political labels, they care about 
results--and that is what Jerry Costello has always focused on. He is 
pragmatic and bipartisan.
  The Almanac of American Politics said it well. Jerry Costello: As 
practical and district-minded as any member of the House. If it can be 
done, Costello will surely do it.
  He has fought for smart, responsible economic policies. He supported 
historic deficit reduction bills in 1993 and 1997 that helped produce 
the first balanced budget in a generation. Four years ago when our 
Nation was on the verge of economic collapse, he voted for the Recovery 
Act to help prevent a second Great Depression.
  On that day 24 years ago that he was sworn in, Jerry Costello 
expressed interest in serving on the House Public Works and 
Transportation Committee. He won that assignment. Today he is the 
senior Democrat on the House Transportation Aviation Subcommittee, an 
assignment he has used to keep the aerospace industry alive and well in 
southern Illinois.
  He has also been a relentless advocate for aviation safety. He has 
had a

[[Page S6333]]

hand in every major aviation safety bill over the past decade. 
Congressman Costello's legacy will be safer skies and runways for 
  No one in Congress has a better understanding of or a stronger 
commitment to improving America's transportation infrastructure.
  Jerry Costello has helped write three national Transportation bills. 
We served together on the conference committee for the most recent 
Transportation Act, which passed earlier this year. It was a bipartisan 
victory that will create or save 3 million good jobs, strengthen 
America's infrastructure and provide the certainty that transportation 
planners and builders need.
  Building modern, regional transportation networks to support economic 
development and improve people's quality of life has always been one of 
his top priorities.
  Jerry Costello has been involved in every major transportation 
project in the St. Louis-Metro East region for the last 30 years, from 
construction of the Clark Bridge to the New Mississippi River Bridge 
connecting St. Louis and East St. Louis.
  He helped bring light rail to the Metro East region and he helped 
lead the effort to create a high-speed rail corridor connecting St. 
Louis and Chicago. He helped pass the strongest airline safety law in 
50 years. His leadership was critical in securing the funding to 
strengthen the flood control levees and dams along the Mississippi 
River and in the adoption of new flood insurance maps that are fair and 
  The first vote Jerry Costello cast in Congress was a ``yes'' vote to 
help bring a South Africa trade sanctions bill to the floor for debate. 
He has remained a committed, consistent champion of basic human rights 
and worker rights--including worker safety and the right to bargain 
  He has fought for fair trade, for efforts to create good jobs in 
America, and against rewarding companies for shipping American jobs 
overseas. He has voted to make college more affordable, and he helped 
pass the Affordable Care Act. Presidents and Congresses tried for a 
century to pass comprehensive health care. Jerry Costello bravely cast 
one of the votes that finally got the job done.
  Coal lies below 65 percent of Illinois' surface. It could be a real 
economic and energy boon to America--if we can find a way to use it 
safely and cleanly. Jerry Costello has fought for cutting-edge new 
technologies and public-private partnerships including FutureGen and 
the new Prairie State Energy Campus that can advance clean coal 
exploration and bring thousands of good new jobs to Illinois. He has 
also been a strong supporter of expanding the use of biofuels--a move 
that would help our environment, boost our energy security and benefit 
Illinois farmers.
  Scott Air Force Base is the largest employer in Illinois south of 
Springfield. When the future of the base hung in the balance during 
successive rounds of BRAC closings between 1995 and 2005, Jerry 
Costello led the effort to maintain and expand its missions. Instead of 
shutting down, Scott Air Force Base actually added 800 new jobs and 
when then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Scott in 2007 he 
hailed it as one of America's three most important air bases.
  Congressman John Shimkus has called Jerry Costello the ``patron saint 
of Scott Air Force Base'' and he's right. Jerry's energy and skill did 
more to save Scott Air Force Base from being closed by the BRAC process 
than any other factor.
  Loretta and I want to thank Jerry's wife, Georgia, their three grown 
children, Jerry, John and Gina, and their eight grandchildren for 
sharing so much of their husband, father and grandfather with our State 
and our Nation all these years.
  Jerry has said that he might like to teach government next. He would 
be good at it. The success of our democracy depends on our ability to 
solve hard problems by reaching honorable compromises. Jerry Costello 
could teach that lesson because he has lived it. Whatever his future 
holds, I wish my old friend the best of luck and I want to thank him 
again for all he has done for our State and our Nation.
  I now ask unanimous consent to enter Senator Kirk's statement 
honoring Congressman Costello's service to the State of Illinois into 
the Record following my remarks.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

       Mr. KIRK. Mr. President, I rise today to give thanks to the 
     dean of Illinois' House of Representatives delegation, 
     Congressman Jerry Costello, who has announced his retirement 
     after more than two decades of service in the Congress. 
     Congressman Costello has been a fixture in the halls of the 
     Capitol long before I took office in 2001, and we will miss 
     his leadership and dedication to the people of the 12th 
     Congressional District.
       From his senior position on the House Transportation and 
     Infrastructure Committee, he has been a tireless advocate for 
     our Nation's road, rail, waterway and aviation 
     infrastructure. His work to improve southwestern Illinois' 
     levee system in particular will pay lasting dividends for his 
     district's safety and economic development.
       Congressman Costello has been such an effective legislator 
     not just because of his knowledge of the issues, but also due 
     to his ability to work across the aisle. In a time of 
     increasing partisanship in Washington, Congressman Costello 
     has established himself as a bipartisan partner, more 
     interested in delivering for his district than scoring 
     political points. This fact is underscored by his close 
     relationship with our colleague Congressman John Shimkus. 
     Together, they have advanced numerous priorities for southern 
     Illinois, including their support for clean, domestic energy 
       But his work on behalf of the men and women of Scott Air 
     Force Base is what I believe will be one of his lasting 
     legacies. Congressman Costello fought to keep Scott open 
     during Base Realignment and Closure Commission process and 
     has been a strong advocate for the base's core medical, 
     communications, and logistics missions, along with the 
     communities that surround Scott.
       I know I speak for our entire delegation when I wish 
     Congressman Costello a happy and well-earned retirement. His 
     leadership will be missed.