(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 []



                        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 
  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 
  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 
  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