Bob Bartlett
Mr. Alaska
Bob Bartlett
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Major Legislation

A Record of Achievement


Few representatives to Congress have matched the productivity and persistence of Alaska's Bob Bartlett. After his election as territorial delegate to Congress, Bartlett took his seat in the House of Representatives on January 3 1945. It was 14 years later - to the day - that President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill making Alaska the 49th State of the Union.

Bob Bartlett was Alaska's only representative to Congress for 14 years. As a territorial delegate, he was not entitled to vote in the House of Representatives, yet he thrived in the Congressional atmosphere, introducing a prodigious number of bills with a relatively high success rate. The majority of Bartlett's legislation during that period consisted of “housekeeping” measures; usually appropriation bills for the maintenance of operation of the Territory that needed to be reintroduced every session. He also wrote scores of relief bills to help individuals and communities in the isolated state – people who often saw the federal bureaucracy that ruled Alaska as an impenetrable establishment.

There were, however, many notable exceptions, legislation that demonstrated a political maturity and mastery of congressional process beyond what might have been expected from the unpretentious office of Territorial Delegate for Alaska. Relatively early in his congressional career, Bob Bartlett realized that building coalitions to support important legislation was the road to congressional success. He introduced many bills and statehood measures himself, but never hesitated to promote alliances by sharing the credit for a bill on which he was the primary author.

1945-Constituent Relief Bob Bartlett's first bill, H.R. 304, passed the House of Representatives on February 19, 1945. It allowed postmasters in Alaska to serve many of the functions of a Notary Public, a small, but invaluable service for remote Alaskan communities. The bill was signed into law on December 11, 1945 as PL 79-254. This bill is an example of the type of relief and appropriations measures Bob Bartlett's office often produced during the Territorial period.

1946-University of Alaska In 1946, a Bartlett bill (H.R. 6486) provided early seed funding for what is now the Geophysical Institute (www.gi.alaska.edu) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (www.uaf.edu). Bob Bartlett would introduce a similar appropriation measure for three consecutive sessions of Congress. The President signed HR. 6486 in 1946 as P.L. 79-580.

1949-Early Statehood Effort An Alaska statehood bill authored by Bob Bartlett, H.R. 331 passed the House of Representatives for the first time, in 1949. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular affairs, where it stalled as congressional leaders faced the twin distractions of conflict in Korea and the fear-fueled McCarthy era that began in 1950.

1956-Mental Health Treatment Bob Bartlett was a primary contributor to H.R. 6376, which was introduced by Representative Edith Green of Oregon (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=G000407) in the 2nd session of the 84th Congress in 1956 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Mental_Health_Enabling_Act) This was an innovative bill designed to reform the treatment of Territorial Alaska's mentally ill by funding an institutional system and, eventually the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/folioproxy.asp?url=http://www.legis.state.ak.us/cgi-bin/folioisa.dll/aac/query=*/doc/{t52314}/pageitems={body}) through a series of land grants. The measure was signed into law as P.L. 84-830.

1958-Statehood-Bob Bartlett worked closely with Congressmen in both the House and Senate including Clare Engle of California (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=E000181), Leo Obrien of New York (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=O000015), Henry Jackson of Washington (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=J000013), and Lyndon Johnson (https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/lyndonbjohnson) (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=J000160) and Sam Rayburn (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=R000082) both of Texas in authoring and managing the Alaska Statehood bill H.R.7999. The bill was introduced by Leo O'Brien and passed the U.S. House on May 26, 1958. Senator Henry Jackson of Washington State was manager for the bill in the U.S. Senate where it passed a roll-call vote on June 30, 1958 by a margin of 64 to 20. P.L. 85-308, making Alaska the 49th State, was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower (http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/dwightdeisenhower/). Bartlett was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1959 and after 14 years was finally able to vote for the people of Alaska.

1959-A New State- H.R.7120 was a measure that transferred federal authority, institutions and property to the new State of Alaska, Bob Bartlett worked closely with the office of the Director of Finance Maurice Stans and Federal agencies including the U.S. Department of the Interior in crafting the details of the bill that was introduced by Congressman Wayne Aspinall of Colorado (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=A000225). The bill was signed into law as P.L. 86-70.

1963-Viet Nam-Bob Bartlett was cosponsor of S.RES.196 known as the Church Resolution (for Idaho Senator Frank Church) (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=C000388) which condemned the government of South Viet Nam and recommended discontinuing military aid to that regime. The government of Republic of Viet Nam President Ngo Dinh Diem was seen as corrupt and oppressive and supporters of the measure hoped to pressure Diem into reforming. Only weeks after this resolution was introduced President Diem was assassinated.

1964-Alaska Earthquake-After the great Alaska earthquake (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/states/events/1964_03_28.php), Bob Bartlett worked closely with Office of Emergency Planning Director Ed McDermott (http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/scua/msc/tomsc250/msc241/msc241.htm), President Lyndon Johnson and the President's head of reconstruction, Senator Clinton Anderson of New Mexico (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=A000186). Legislation to aid Alaska's recovery included S.2772 and S.2881, two bills that amended P.L. 86-70 (originally H.R.7120 The Alaska Omnibus Act) by extending and increasing funding provisions that were originally scheduled to conclude in 1964.

1965-The 12-Mile Limit-Throughout the postwar period foreign commercial fishing fleets increasingly operated within waters that had been traditionally considered American. Warren Magnuson (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=M000053), Ted Kennedy (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=K000105) and Bob Bartlett introduced S.2218 in 1966. The result of a long and complicated effort on behalf of Bartlett, Magnuson and the Senate Commerce Committee staff, it created a contiguous fishing zone that extended beyond U.S. territorial limits to 12 miles from shore. The Bill was signed into law as P.L. 89-658.

1967-Disabled Persons-One of Bob Bartlett's last contributions was S.222, a measure that provided for the design of all future government buildings to incorporate features providing access for disabled people. This bill was an example of Bob Bartlett's coalition-building skills with a sponsorship of no fewer than 18 Senators, including Birch Bayh (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=B000254), Hale Boggs (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=B000594), Ted Kennedy, Jacob Javitz (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=J000064) and Ernest Gruening. The measure was signed into law in 1968 as P.L. 90-480 and is now considered the forerunner of the Americans with Disabilities act.



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