January 11, 2016 - Issue: Vol. 162, No. 6 — Daily Edition114th Congress (2015 - 2016) - 2nd Session
IN REMEMBRANCE OF DALE BUMPERS U.S. SENATOR, GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS, AND FIGHTER FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE AND PROGRESSIVE REFORMS; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 6
(Extensions of Remarks - January 11, 2016)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Pages E30-E31] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] IN REMEMBRANCE OF DALE BUMPERS U.S. SENATOR, GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS, AND FIGHTER FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE AND PROGRESSIVE REFORMS ______ HON. SHEILA JACKSON LEE of texas in the house of representatives Monday, January 11, 2016 Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to Dale Leon Bumpers, a great American, a man who embodied civility and bipartisanship; one of the most passionate advocates for civil rights, social justice, and nuclear non-proliferation; a man who served his country honorably in the Armed Forces, the Arkansas Statehouse, and the United States Senate. Dale Bumpers died at his home in Little Rock, Arkansas, on January 1, 2016 at the age of 90. Dale Bumpers was born August 12, 1925, in Charleston, Arkansas, to Lattie (Jones) and William Rufus Bumpers, who had served a term in the Arkansas House of Representatives of Arkansas, encouraged his son to attend all local political events telling him that there was, ``nothing as exhilarating as a political victory and nothing as rewarding or as honorable as being a dedicated, honest politician who actually makes things better and more just.'' Dale Bumpers came of age during the lean years of the Great Depression, which instilled in him an ethic of hard work and a compassion for those in need, what the great biographer Robert Caro quotes Sam Early Johnson as being caught in the ``tentacles of circumstance.'' In 1943, Dale Bumpers put his studies at the University of Arkansas on hold to enlist in the United States Marines, serving in the Pacific Theater during World War II. After his honorable discharge from the Marines, Dale Bumpers earned his baccalaureate degree from the University of Arkansas and then moved to Evanston, Illinois to attend Northwestern University School of Law, from which he graduated in 1951. In 1949, two fateful events occurred: tragically his beloved parents were killed in an automobile accident; but happily, he married his high school sweetheart and the love of his life, Betty Lou Flanagan, and together they raised their three children in Charleston, Arkansas. Upon graduation from law school and his admission to the Arkansas State Bar in 1952, Dale Bumpers entered the private practice of law, a field in which his natural charm, quick wit, and folksy manner, allowed him to excel. Between 1952 and 1970, he won every case he handled except three, which validated the title of his memoir which was, The Best Lawyer in a One-Lawyer Town. After the Supreme Court's Landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education, the Charleston School Board asked his advice on how to best respond to the Court's decision. Dale Bumpers's response was quick and direct: compliance rather than defiance was his advice, which was heeded by the School Board. In 1962, Dale Bumpers ran for the House seat that his father once held and although he handily carried his home city of Charleston, he narrowly lost the election. [[Page E31]] But the loss neither discouraged nor deterred Dale Bumpers from seeking elective office so he could continue to serve others. Opportunity presented itself in the 1970 Arkansas gubernatorial race. The Democratic primary field included racist former Governor Orval Faubus, who had served six terms from 1954 to 1966, Attorney General Joe Edward Purcell, and Arkansas House Speaker Hayes McClerkin. An early poll showed Dale Bumpers with about one percent of the vote but compelling television ads showcasing his integrity, winning personality, progressivism attracted broad and enthusiastic public support, especially in western Arkansas, and earned him a spot in the run-off election with Orval Faubus, which he won with 62% of the vote. In the general election, Dale Bumpers soundly defeated the incumbent Republican governor, Winthrop Rockefeller, who was seeking a third term. During his first term as Arkansas Governor, Dale Bumpers guided to passage laws that gave more powers to the cities, created a consumer protection division in the Attorney General's office, repealed the ``fair trade'' liquor law, expanded the state park system, improved social services for elderly, disabled, and developmentally challenged citizens. During his second term Dale Bumpers continued to pursue a progressive reform agenda and won passage of legislation creating state-supported kindergarten, providing for free textbooks for high school students, authorizing a major construction program at the state's colleges, eliminating the prison ``trusty'' system, and increased support of the community college system through increased state payments of operational costs. Despite the fact Dale Bumpers governorship was widely viewed as a success, by friends and critics alike, he did not enjoy the position, writing in his autobiography that he, ``intensely disliked most of my time as governor'' because ``I spent more time trying to make sure bad things didn't happen than I spent trying to make good things happen.'' In 1974, as he was completing his second term as governor, Dale Bumpers decided to challenge the incumbent U.S. senator, the legendary J. William Fulbright, in the Democratic senatorial primary. Because of his admiration, support, and friendship, Dale Bumpers was reluctant to enter the race against the politically vulnerable Senator Fulbright, writing in his memoir: I didn't want to oppose him; on the other hand, I would never forgive myself if he was defeated by someone whose views were an anathema to me. Dale Bumpers won the Democratic primary with 65% percent of the vote and went on to win the general election against John Harris Jones with 85% of the vote, the largest margin of victory in a statewide election in 30 years. Dale Bumpers was sworn in as United States Senator in January 1975; he was easily reelected in 1980, 1986, and 1992. In the course of his 28 year career, Dale Bumpers, nicknamed ``the giant killer'' by the New York Times, would defeat former or future Arkansas governors: Orval Faubus, Winthrop Rockefeller, Asa Hutchinson, and Mike Huckabee. During his twenty-four-year career in the United States Senate, Dale Bumpers served as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Small Business Committee and was a senior member of the Committees on Appropriations and on Energy and Natural Resources from which perch he championed environmental legislation and efforts to expand and fund the National Park System. Though as a fiscal conservative, Senator Bumpers was an early supporter of efforts to reduce the national debt and was often a critic of excessive military spending. Dale Bumpers retired from the Senate in 1998 but one of the greatest orators ever to serve in the Senate returned to the chamber the following year to deliver the speech for which he is perhaps best known, the powerful, persuasive, compelling, and widely praised closing argument leading to acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. Mr. Speaker, Dale Leon Bumpers was a legislator's legislator and our prayers and condolences go out to his widow, Betty Lou Flanagan, his children, Brent, Bill, and Brooke. Dale Leon Bumpers touched so many lives in so many helpful ways that he will always be remembered as one of the finest public servants of the 20th century. I ask that the House observe a moment of silence in memory of the distinguished United States Senator from Arkansas, the late Dale Leon Bumpers. ____________________