Commemorating the Life of Mario Cuomoby Representative Jerrold Nadler
Posted on 2015-01-12
NADLER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, I too came to the legislature and served for 16 years there. And for most of that time, Mario Cuomo was Governor.
We all know that he was an eloquent philosopher in politics, someone who could express the goals and the principles of public office and of government more eloquently than almost anyone else.
Mario Cuomo graduated first in his class from St. John's Law School in 1946. And despite sending out over 70 resumes, he couldn't get a response or an interview from a top law firm because he was Italian. And that was the [[Page H211]] state of prejudice in this country--or at least on Wall Street in 1946.
He went on from there to become a major lawyer, to become the Governor of a State, to become a leader of a philosophy in American politics. But in doing so, he never forgot where he came from. He didn't forget his experiences, and he knew that other people were having similar experiences.
He was a man of great principle. He vetoed the death penalty--though he knew that the death penalty was very popular in New York--12 times in a row, and he sustained those vetoes. Having not forgotten where he came from, he always wanted to use government to help defenseless people who needed the help of government, and he did.
We all know many of the things he did. I am not going to repeat them here. But I want to just mention a couple of things that didn't get great publicity but that I saw as a member of the legislature.
When he became Governor, he set up a commission. I forget the exact title--Commission on Child Support, Commission on Day Care, whatever it was. But every year for years, that commission came up with legislation which he supported and pushed, and some of us in the legislature worked on that. And he passed--we passed pioneering legislation, pioneering in this country on child support enforcement, which was considered a radical idea in the early 1980s. We passed the Child Support Standards Act so that judges couldn't leave women and their children without adequate support. He passed day care resource and referral legislation and family day care, all of which came from the initiatives of Governor Cuomo, none of which got a lot of publicity, which was focused on so- called bigger items. But these helped people. These were vital for people living their lives without a lot of money, without a lot of resources. But government became a helper and a friend because of Governor Cuomo.