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Harry R.
Democrat NV

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  • Tribute to Mark Pryor

    by Senator Harry Reid

    Posted on 2014-12-12

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    REID. Mr. President, I am going to take just a minute, because time is running out, to talk about a couple of Senators.

    I rise to honor Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas upon his departure from this institution. I have been in the Senate 28 years, and there has been a Pryor here for 22 of those years. I first worked with Mark's dad, David Pryor. David Pryor left this institution because he had quite a significant heart attack. What a fine Senator. I have said before, and I will say again, he was the best legislator I ever served with, whether during my experience in the State legislature of Nevada or here: David Pryor. He was very, very good.

    Six years after David left, Mark came. What a good legislator he is. He is just such a fine person. But it is no surprise to me that he followed in his dad's footsteps. After all, the Pryor family has worked as public servants in Arkansas for five generations. Mark's great- great-grandfather was a sheriff. Mark's great-grandfather was a sheriff. Mark's grandfather Edgar was a county sheriff also in Arkansas. In fact, just last year, an Arkansan said to Mark: ``I'm for Mark Pryor not because of his dad David but because of Edgar.'' That is how deep the Pryor roots run in Arkansas.

    On Mark's desk is a plaque that reads: ``Arkansas Comes First.'' This was a plaque that was on his dad's desk and that Mark put on his desk. This has been Mark's mission since he has been here--to put Arkansas first. The Senate and the entire country have benefited from the influence of the Pryors in the United States Senate--David and Mark.

    Mark was born in Fayetteville, grew up in Little Rock, and attended the University of Arkansas as an undergraduate and later to law school. While working as an attorney in private practice, he began his public service in 1990, when he ran for a seat in the House of Representatives. He was elected and served there for 4 years.

    In 1996, Mark was faced with the fight of his life. He had a situation occur near his Achilles tendon on one of his legs. They tried physical therapy, but it didn't seem to get well, and they discovered he had a very rare form of cancer--clear-cell sarcoma--in his left leg. So it is an understatement to say it was a trying experience for Mark. He was faced with the prospect of dying or losing his leg.

    Mark was buoyed in this difficult experience that he had by his family, his friends, and the people of Arkansas praying for him. It was quite a spiritual experience for Mark and his family. This experience deepened his compassion for those who suffer physically, financially, and emotionally, and he has translated that into his public service.

    In 1998, he was elected attorney general of the State of Arkansas. In his 2002 Senatorial election he bucked the national trend to become the only Democrat to defeat a Republican incumbent. Bucking trends would quickly become one of his hallmarks here on Capitol Hill. As a Senator, he has shown courage in voting according to his conscience.

    Key among his legislative accomplishments have been bills to extend tax benefits and improve medical services for men and women to make the products that people buy, especially children, safe. He has also been a strong advocate for honest and transparent business practices in order to preserve our American tradition of responsible free enterprise.

    His respect for tradition extends to the Senate itself. I say this for a number of reasons, but once a reporter asked him what he would do if he had absolute power over Congress. In his characteristic fashion, he responded he would instill in his fellow Senators greater respect for each other and for the world's greatest deliberative body. That is what Mark Pryor said.

    While some may have disagreed with Mark, they never ever questioned his sincerity, his integrity. I admire his impeccable dedication to his conscience.

    Mark Twain said: The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are in the wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are in the right.

    With apologies to Mark Twain, if eternal agreement were the price of friendship, we would all have fewer friends. Friendship can transcend policy preferences, as Mark's and mine do. We agree on most everything. There are a few things we don't agree on politically, but that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because he is my friend.

    He is a friend to my wife and me. It is no secret there are many people--the Republican leader and his wife--who reached out to console me and Landra during her terrible accident, and then when the cancer was ravaging her body. But she pulled through that. And one reason she did, I am convinced, is Mark Pryor. Mark Pryor, who almost died from cancer, called my wife often--often--texted her often telling her: You are going to be OK; don't be afraid. So my wife loves Mark Pryor.

    [[Page S6701]] We were talking about the elections not long ago, and I said: I have never prayed to win an election, and this election I didn't either. She said: Well, I did. That is how she feels about Mark Pryor.

    I am really honored to have served with Mark Pryor, who is such a genuine person, so sincere. He has been an invaluable asset, his service here in the Senate. I congratulate Mark on his exemplary service here in the Senate.

    Mark will always be my friend. There is a quote that bears directly on my feelings about Senator Pryor: ``A good friend is hard to find, hard to lose, and impossible to forget.'' I will never ever forget Mark Pryor. He is a unique, one of a kind, kind, thoughtful, considerate man.


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