In Rep. C.W. Bill Young's 38 years of congressional votes, the one cast Wednesday afternoon didn't look like one for the history books. It was on Amendment 4 to the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act. Young voted yes.
It was Young's 20,000th recorded vote, a milestone for the Floridian who is the longest-serving Republican currently in the House. (The longest-serving Democrat is John Dingle of Michigan, who has been there since 1955.)
Young, whose district includes southern Pinellas County, joined Congress under President Richard Nixon and cast his first vote in January 1971. It was for his party's choice for House speaker, Gerald Ford, who lost because Democrats were in control.
Young has worked with eight presidents, seven House speakers and more committee chairmen than you can name. He started as a back-bencher for the minority party and rose to become chairman of the House Appropriations Committee from 1999 to 2005, a job so influential that the adjective "powerful" seems permanently tacked on the front.
When he started in Congress, he voted by saying "yay" or "nay," in an alphabetical roll call that took 45 minutes. He didn't have to sprint for the votes because, when your name is Young, you weren't called until the end.
Now, each House member has a plastic card that they insert in a little slot and push a button — green for yes, red for no, yellow for "present."
On Wednesday, after he inserted the card and pushed the green button, leaders of both parties interrupted the proceedings to pay tribute and give him a standing ovation.
Democrats praised him for his cheerful, bipartisan approach.
"The real measure of Bill Young, which Americans would have observed had they been with him in those votes, is the decency of Bill Young, the collegiality of Bill Young, of his inclination to reach across the aisle,'' said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. "Bill Young is an example for us all of how to treat one another."
Times staff writer Wes Allison contributed to this report. Bill Adair can be reached at (202) 463-0575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.