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Commissioner Daniel B. Maffei Statement In Memoriam Rep. Richard L. Hanna

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I just wanted to post a few words marking the passing of my dear friend and former colleague in Congress, Richard L. Hanna (R-NY).

Richard was humble and kind and dedicated to serving his community and country.

A champion of improving America’s transportation system, Richard was frustrated by Congress’ inability to find a bipartisan way to invest in vital infrastructure.  In a March 2015 interview, he summed up his view: “You can’t have a successful country without having a good infrastructure system, and ours is in decline. We need to be more thoughtful and willing to talk about how we’re going to pay for it. … We have to value transportation, value intermodal works and everything along with it. It’s our job to get out there and say, ‘Darn it, this is important.’”  Along with Rep. Janice Hahn(D-CA), he introduced a bill to establish state infrastructure banks to help fund transportation on the state and local level.

Richard was a great friend of the port of Oswego.  When I represented the port, he helped me obtain vital Federal funds.  I worked hard on it, as did New York’s Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, but without Richard’s help as a member of the majority on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, we might not have accomplished it.

Since we had such similar districts, we would exchange notes on many votes and kept an eye on each other’s yeas or nays.  Sometimes I would see us voting together on a partisan matter.  If it was a vote the Republican leadership opposed, I would ask him if he thought it was worth angering his party leaders since he was constantly threatened with primaries.  He’d turn to me and say something to the effect that it was not worth being in Congress if he couldn’t do the right thing while in Congress.

He never considered himself a hero or a profile in courage but I believe he was a hero to many Upstate New Yorkers and many of those who served with him.

Daniel B. Maffei is a Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are his own and do not represent the position of the Commission.