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Nebraska Delegation Members Introduce Bill to Honor Late Congressman Bill Barrett

Nebraska State News

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE-03) and Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-NE) introduced legislation to designate the Postal Service building in Lexington, NE as the “Bill Barrett Post Office Building” in honor of the former Third District Congressman who passed away in 2016. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE-02) and Mike Flood (R-NE-01) are original cosponsors of the legislation.

The members released the following statements:

“Known for his ability to cultivate consensus and connect with anyone, Bill Barrett’s legacy is put best in his own words ‘Service to others is the best work of life,’” said Rep. Smith. “Today, the Third District leads the nation in agriculture production, owing no small thanks to his work on issues important to Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. He set a lasting standard of statesmanship for all who look to his example, and I thank my fellow delegation members for joining me in this effort to memorialize his impact on our state.”

“During his service in the Legislature and later in Congress, Bill Barrett always put Nebraskans first,” said Sen. Ricketts. “He was also a friend and advisor to me and so many other leaders. His legacy should be honored. Through this legislation, I hope to see the Lexington Post Office renamed in commemoration of his years of public service to Nebraska and our country.”

“Whether serving as a member of the U.S. Navy, Speaker of the Unicameral, or a U.S. Congressman, Representative Barrett dedicated his life to helping others — a relentless fighter for his district and for Nebraska. I’m proud to co-lead this legislation to honor his legacy of public service,” said Sen. Fischer.

“Bill Barrett faithfully served the Great State of Nebraska first in the Unicameral where he rose to be Speaker of the Legislature and then as a Member of Congress,” said Rep. Bacon. “As a Member of the Agriculture Committee, he helped to write the Freedom to Farm Act of 1996, which revised and simplified direct payment programs for crops and eliminated milk price supports through direct government purchases. He also served our great nation in the Navy. I am honored to support the naming of a post office in his honor.”

“From the Navy to the Unicameral to the halls of Congress, Bill Barrett’s life was devoted to public service. As former Speakers of the Nebraska Unicameral, he and I shared a special bond,” said Rep. Flood. “During Barrett’s decade in the House, he was an advocate for Nebraska agriculture who helped author the Farm Bill. Naming the Lexington post office after him is one small way we can honor his legacy, and I’m grateful to Congressman Smith for leading the charge to get this done.”

William E. Barrett, born in Lexington, NE, represented Nebraska’s Third Congressional District for 10 years from 1991-2001. He graduated from Hastings College in 1951 with a degree in Business Administration and served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. Following his service in the Navy, Barrett returned to Hastings College where he recruited students and was vice president for student admissions and was involved in public relations. He later served on the College Board of Trustees for 32 years. He was also a member of his family’s general insurance, real estate brokerage, and appraising firm, Barrett-Housel & Associates. In 1978, Barrett was elected to the Nebraska Legislature, serving for 12 years with his last four as Speaker, until he was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1990. He was elected president of his freshman congressional class, a group that included future Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH). During his time in Congress, he served on the House Agriculture Committee, where he coauthored the Freedom to Farm Act and fought against federal overreach into local water rights issues. He also presided over a weekly bipartisan prayer breakfast, and in 1997, he was appointed chairman of the National Prayer Breakfast.