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Marion Berry


Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 1st district
Incumbent
Assumed office 
January 3, 1997
Preceded by Blanche Lincoln

Born August 27, 1942 (1942-08-27) (age 67)
Stuttgart, Arkansas
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Carolyn Berry
Residence Gillett, Arkansas
Alma mater University of Arkansas
Occupation farmer, pharmacist
Religion Methodist

Robert Marion Berry (born August 27, 1942) is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives representing Arkansas's 1st congressional district. Prior to his first election to the House of Representatives in 1997 Berry served on President Bill Clinton's White House Domestic Policy Council. In Congress, Berry has been appointed to the House Appropriations Committee and serves on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water, and Transportation subcommittees. He was also chosen by Democratic Leadership to serve as Vice-Chair of the Steering and Policy Committee and as a member of the Leader's Senior Whip Team.[1] Berry will not stand for re-election to the House in 2010.

Contents

Life and political career

Born in Stuttgart, Arkansas, Berry was raised in nearby Bayou Meto, Arkansas County in the Arkansas Delta. The son of a rice farmer, he was encouraged by his parents to work towards a career outside the farm. Moving to Little Rock, he earned a pharmacy degree at the University of Arkansas and then ran a pharmacy for two years. In 1967, he returned to the family business and became a farmer in his own right, harvesting soybeans and rice, establishing a business that he carries on today. The family farm holdings have a reported net worth in excess of $1 million.

His initial step into politics was in 1968 as a campaign adviser on domestic social policy for the George Wallace presidential campaign. He later ran and was elected to a position as a city alderman in Stuttgart, Arkansas in the early 1980s. He was appointed as a member of the Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission by Governor Bill Clinton in 1986, and continued in that role until 1994. In 1993, then President Bill Clinton went on to appoint Berry as a member of the White House Domestic Policy Council (1993–1996) and special assistant to the President for Agricultural Trade and Food Assistance (1993–1996). Returning to Arkansas in 1996, he announced his intention to run for the 1st District being vacated by now Senator Blanche Lincoln.

With tough opposition from more progressive candidates, Berry narrowly won the primary with 52% of the vote, thanks to an endorsement by Wallace and aggressive campaigning in the rural areas north of the Mississippi Delta region. In a district that has never elected a Republican, and with Berry outspending his opponent two-to-one in the general election, attorney Warren Dupwe, he claimed a modest victory (53%–44%) that November. He has declined to run for statewide office, citing health, family responsibilities, and unspecified social issues. However, he has enjoyed easy re-election since 1996, carrying the district 67%–33% in 2004, and then running unopposed in 2008, while receiving support from donors and groups also opposing the Barack Obama presidential campaign that year.

Berry resides in Gillett, Arkansas, with wife Carolyn and identifies as a Methodist.

House Record

Berry is a self-described Blue Dog Democrat, and has voted against the 2001 tax cuts. He has indicated that he will vote against the National Health Care bill.[2]

Berry has a seat on the House Appropriations Committee. He co-founded the Democrats' Prescription Drug Task Force and has pursued his interests in health care policy while in the Congress.[citation needed] As one of the three House Democrats that sat on the House-Senate conference committee on the Medicare/prescription drug bill in 2003, he voiced many complaints about the administration's healthcare policies.[citation needed] Berry voted for the Democratic health care reform bill, HR 3962, during its first House Floor vote. He has also voted for the Troubled Assets Relief Program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

He visited Cuba with Blanche Lincoln to promote the removal of the trade embargo to create more markets for Arkansas agricultural products. He drew some controversy when he supported the dumping of nuclear waste from Entergy Corporation reactors into the Arkansas River. Berry also made headlines when he called Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Florida) a "Howdy Doody looking nimrod" while on the House floor.[3]

On October 10, 2002, Marion Berry was among the 81 House Democrats who voted in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq.[4]

Berry was the only Democrat to vote against the GIVE Act, an act which could result in the creation of a mandatory National Service program.[5][6]

Committee Assignments

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Caucuses

  • House Democratic Health Care Task Force (Co-Chair)
  • House Affordable Medicine Task Force (Co-Chair)
  • Congressional Soybean Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • New Madrid Working Group (Co-Chair)

Group Ratings (108th Congress)

References

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Blanche Lincoln
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 1st congressional district

1997–Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent

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