OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Longtime Nebraska politician Bill Barrett, who helped shape the nation’s farm policy during his 10 years in Congress, has died at age 87.
The conservative Republican was known for seeking consensus and compromise during his decade representing the western two-thirds of Nebraska in the state’s 3rd Congressional District.
Tami Reynolds of Reynolds-Love Funeral Home in Lexington said Barrett died Tuesday night at an assisted living facility in Lexington, his hometown.
Barrett was outspoken on farm issues and helped write the Freedom to Farm Act in 1996 that limited farm subsidies. He also tried to keep the federal government out of local water rights issues.
He served in the U.S. House from 1991 through 2000. Before that, he spent 12 years in the Nebraska Legislature, his final four as speaker.
Gov. Pete Ricketts-
“Susanne and I are deeply saddened by Congressman Barrett’s passing. I first met him when I was traveling the state about 10 years ago, and he was eager to offer his insights and guidance. He built a reputation as a legislator who put Nebraska first during his service to our state in the Unicameral and in the U.S. Congress. With his passing, Nebraska has lost a statesman, and I have lost a friend and an advisor. We will lift up Elsie and the entire Barrett family in our prayers during this time of mourning.”
Sen. Deb Fischer-
“I was saddened to learn of Congressman Barrett’s passing last night. Bill was a kind, positive man who was well liked by those who served with him. From his time in the Nebraska Legislature to serving in Congress, he always had a smile on his face, even when negotiating tough positions to help his district and his state. I will always value his friendship and support. Bruce and I offer our condolences to the Barrett family at this time.”
Sen. Ben Sasse-
“Melissa and I express our deep sorrow to the family of Congressman Barrett. Like all Nebraskans, we are profoundly grateful for his life’s example of hard work and public service. Bill gave selflessly to the state he loved. He will be missed.”
Congressman Adrian Smith-
“Congressman Barrett devoted his life to service. From his speakership in the State Legislature to the years he spent in Congress, he was known for being true to his word and bringing people together to get things done. Serving Nebraskans was his top priority, and his dedication to our district and state set a lasting example for me and all who have sought to fill his shoes.
“With the passing of both Bill Barrett and Duane Acklie within days of one another, Nebraska has lost two influential conservative leaders. Andrea and I send our condolences to Bill’s and Duane’s families. These outstanding Nebraskans will be dearly missed.”
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry-
“Nebraskans can be proud of the legacy of former Congressman Bill Barrett. He was known as a dutiful public servant who earned a reputation in Congress for a steady hand and hard work. During his time in office he continued the Nebraska tradition of bringing understated value to the most pressing problems of our country, with a particular emphasis on agriculture policy. I extend my condolences to his family and friends.” Fortenberry is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
Former State Sen. and current Gage County Commissioner Dennis Byars of Beatrice-
Byars, a longtime advocate for people with disabilities, says he visited Representative Bill Barrett in Congress and was always impressed with Barrett’s compassion and ability to listen…
“He would always listen and he would go back on the floor of the House and would relate what I told him…and the people I exposed him to. A class act…a person with class, attention to detail, adhering to the laws and the needs of this state, but also the needs of the people of the State of Nebraska.”
36th District Congressman Matt Williams of Gothenburg-
“A part of his legacy for me is the encouragement I’ve received was seeing someone like him; with a family, cares about his church, and his community that will still step up to serve at a higher level. Watching that happen was important to me because it challenged me to do something similar.”