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Harry R.
Democrat NV

About Sen. Harry
  • Tribute to James Fransen

    by Senator Harry Reid

    Posted on 2014-12-11

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    REID. Today's generation goes to Google for answers to questions they have about geography, about politics, famous people, or any subject. Any subject, you name it, and we all go to Google as quickly as we can. But long before Google, we had to use books, encyclopedias, volumes of books containing all sorts of facts on topics, and they were all in alphabetic order. For almost the last 40 years--39 to be exact-- the Senate has had its own encyclopedia--legislative counsel Jim Fransen.

    Jim began his Senate career in 1975, just after graduating from law school--from the University of Wisconsin--where he also studied as an undergraduate. That year he joined the Office of Legislative Counsel as assistant counsel. Over the years, Jim Fransen gradually moved up the ranks until he was named legislative counsel, a position he has held for 15 years.

    He is a noted expert on a lot of things, but especially the United States Tax Code. We have heard speeches on this floor about the complexity of the Tax Code. That is a monumental assignment, to understand the Tax Code. Jim certainly does, perhaps better than anyone in Washington. Jim actually wrote the Tax Reform Act of 1986. That was the famous Bradley-Gephardt legislation.

    For four decades, he has played a role in every important piece of tax legislation that has become law in our country. The Office of Legislative Counsel does the work for the Senate--not Democrats, not Republicans, but all of us, including our staffs. They write bills to create programs while also drafting amendments that will have some effect on these programs, sometimes wiping out these programs. This impartiality is the key to the success of the Senate and something we don't often consider--how we get to the point where we are.

    This massive bill we are going to deal with today has legislative counsel's imprint on it. The same can be said of the bill they are going to work on today in the House, the omnibus; the tax extenders, the same thing. These are the must-do's we have to do before we leave here.

    Another key to the success of Jim Fransen is the excellent team he has put together in the Office of Legislative Counsel. The staff, under his watchful eye, receives about 15,000 legislative inquiries every year--15,000--well more than 1,000 a month, and they are responsible for drafting 98 percent of all the legislation we do.


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