New York lawmakers paid tribute Tuesday to Daniel Patrick Moynihan on the floor of the House, praising the retiring senator as a workingman, scholar, diplomat and legislator.
"Only in America," said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-Harlem, describing Moynihan's rise from the slums of Hell's Kitchen and jobs shining shoes to the Senate's leading intellect.
"For New Yorkers, Senator Moynihan has always been one of our home-grown heroes, our proud gift to the nation," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-Manhattan. Democrats and Republicans praised Moynihan's bipartisan, gentlemanly style over his 24 years in the Senate and his work on issues from the Northern Ireland peace process to Social Security to transportation funding.
"He always defied New York's upstate-downstate state of mind," said Rep. James Walsh, R-Syracuse.
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-New Hartford, described his unique relationship with Moynihan -- the senator's farm in Pindar's Corners is in Boehlert's Central New York district.
"I am his congressman, and I can tell you, one cannot wish for a better constituent," Boehlert said.
Rep. Rick A. Lazio, R-Babylon, campaigning in Buffalo, submitted a statement for the record calling Moynihan "a truly eloquent voice in Washington for all of us in the Empire State" and saying he would be "deeply honored to serve as his successor."
Rep. John J. LaFalce, D-Town of Tonawanda, called Moynihan "one of the giants of American public life."
Citing the senator's authorship of 18 books, LaFalce said: "It's the quality that really matters. I can think of no one who served in this building in the 20th century who made a greater contribution to our nation. . . .
"Too few of us are able, consistently, to keep the big picture in front of us all the time. That's what Pat Moynihan does best."
Rep. Jack Quinn, R-Hamburg, said, "When I leave this place, whenever it is and for whatever the reason, if I can leave with the integrity and record that . . . Moynihan leaves with, I will be a very lucky man."
Moynihan sat in the chamber for the nearly hourlong salute, taking a little bow and offering a handshake after each of his colleagues spoke.
He called the tribute "lovely."
"Wonderful things were said all the way from Buffalo to Long Island," Moynihan said. "It makes an old man feel good."