Heard on the Hill

Roybal's Legacy Takes Root on Capitol Grounds

The late congressman honored with a red oak tree.

From left,  Steny Hoyer, Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers, Rev. Patrick Conroy, Lucille Roybal-Allard and Nancy Pelosi attend a tree planting ceremony on the south side of the Capitol for the late Rep. Edward Roybal, D-Calif., the father Roybal-Allard, March 16, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The memory of the late Edward R. Roybal will remain in Congress long after most have left. Between the House side of the Capitol and Rayburn, where his office was, a red oak tree was planted to honor him on Wednesday.  

The California Democrat was honored by his daughter, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., and his former colleagues Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.  

Roybal-Allard noted in her remarks that this year is the 40th anniversary of her father’s co-founding of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. He also co-founded the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and founded the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.  

Reid recalled that when Roybal spoke to former House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill Jr., D-Mass., about forming a Hispanic Caucus, O’Neill said, ‘Where are you going to meet, in a phone booth?’  

“Well, it’s a great big phone booth now,” Reid said of the caucus, which has 25 members.  

The senator said that when he was a junior member of the House and his wife became ill, Roybal would drive him from the Los Angeles airport when he went home to see her. “As you know, he loved Las Vegas,” Reid joked.  

“Listening to the Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, I couldn’t help but think what Eddie would be thinking,” Pelosi said. She noted that Roybal was the first member of Congress to appropriate funds for HIV/AIDs.  

Hoyer said both Roybal-Allard and Pelosi’s fathers were House appropriators. Roybal was first elected to the House in 1962, then joined the appropriations committee in 1971 until the end of his tenure.  

“Ed Roybal was critical to our country and our Hispanic citizens,” he said.  

Following the blessing of the tree from House Chaplain Fr. Patrick J. Conroy, the Roybal family helped plant the tree.  

“What a wonderful day he had God give us to celebrate,” Hoyer said.  Roybal died in 2005 and in 2014, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously from President Barack Obama.  

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