WASHINGTON – It’s as if the partisan combatants of present-day Washington, struggling to reach a budget and tax agreement before the end of the year, keep trying to conjure the spirit of an old-fashioned dealmaker.
Two weeks ago, US House members planted a tree in honor of the late Speaker Thomas P. ``Tip’’ O’Neill. Today, the House named a government office building near the Capitol after the skilled lawmaker.
Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi joined together on the House floor to hail O’Neill’s service, which spanned 34 years, including the 10 years he wielded the gavel. Massachusetts Representatives Ed Markey, Michael Capuano, Niki Tsongas, and Jim McGovern also invoked his memory in brief floor speeches.
`` Tip O’Neill was the Albert Einstein of politics,’’ Markey said. ``He knew what it took to make this institution work. He knew what it meant to reach across the aisle.’’
O’Neill frequently asked of legislation presented in the House: ``Is it fair, and does it work?’’ Markey added. ``If it could not pass that two-part test, then it should not become a law in the United States of America.’’
The federal office building that will bear O’Neill’s name is currently being renovated. It sits between the Hubert H. Humphrey Building, named for the vice president who served under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and a building named for the late President Gerald R. Ford.