William Huston Natcher

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William Huston Natcher
William H Natcher.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky's 2nd district
In office
August 1, 1953 – March 29, 1994
Preceded by Garrett L. Withers
Succeeded by Ron Lewis
Chairman of the United States House Committee on Appropriations
In office
January 3, 1993 – March 29, 1994
Preceded by Jamie Whitten
Succeeded by Dave Obey
Personal details
Born September 11, 1909
Bowling Green, Kentucky
Died March 29, 1994 (aged 84)
Bethesda, Maryland
Political party Democratic

William Huston Natcher (September 11, 1909 – March 29, 1994) was a Democratic congressman, serving in the United States House of Representatives from 1953 to 1994.

Early life[edit]

Natcher was born on September 11, 1909, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Natcher received a Bachelor of Arts degree at Western Kentucky State College (now Western Kentucky University) in Bowling Green in 1930 and an LL.B. from the Ohio State University in Columbus in 1933. Natcher married in 1937, and had two daughters.[1]

Natcher practiced law in Bowling Green. From 1936 to 1937 he was U.S. Conciliation Commissioner for Kentucky's Western District, and he served as Warren County Attorney from 1938 to 1950. Natcher was President of Kentucky's Young Democratic Clubs from 1941 to 1946.

He served in the United States Navy during World War II. From 1951 to 1953 Natcher was Commonwealth's Attorney for Kentucky's Eighth Judicial District.

Congressional career[edit]

He was elected as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives in 1953 from the 2nd District. He cast 18,401 consecutive roll-call votes between 1953 and 1994, never missing a single roll call vote over his entire forty-one-year Congressional career, the all-time record for both the House of Representatives and Congress as a whole.[2] Natcher refused to accept campaign contributions. He was also chairman of the House Appropriations Committee from 1993 to 1994. His knowledge of House rules in debate led House Speaker Tip O'Neill to employ him as presiding officer during crucial debates.

On March 4, 1994, Natcher was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton.[3] He continued to serve in Congress until his death on March 29, 1994, in Bethesda, Maryland.

Legacy[edit]

Natcher was a champion of road projects within the state of Kentucky, especially the construction of a cable-stayed bridge between Kentucky and Indiana near Owensboro. Natcher helped get the majority of federal funding for the new bridge, which now carries U.S. Highway 231 across the Ohio River. The bridge was named in his honor before he died, although it was not completed until 2002. Also named in Natcher's honor in 1997 is the William H. Natcher Green River Parkway, a Kentucky state parkway (formerly a toll road) that runs between Bowling Green and Owensboro. During his congressional career, Natcher was a passionate believer in libraries and literacy. He fought for continued federal funding for library construction and initiatives. These programs continue today; the Kentucky Library Association presents the William H. Natcher Award annually for acts of philanthropy and support of libraries within the Commonwealth.

Washington, DC, Metrorail Funding[edit]

Natcher was a pro-highway Congressman, encouraging road projects, including in the District of Columbia. From 1970 to 1973, he repeatedly held up funding for the Washington Metro system, delaying its construction until 1973, when he lost a vote to block Metro funding.[4] Natcher refused to allow federal funding for the Washington DC Metro until Arlington County officials agreed to have I-66 go though North Arlington neighborhoods.[5]

In addition, Natcher sought construction of the controversial Three Sisters Bridge, demanding the project begin construction before funds could be released to WMATA. Eventually, a coalition of Congressmen led by Robert Giaimo [6] circumvented Natcher, preventing construction of the Bridge.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ William H. Natcher papers — Georgetown University
  2. ^ http://www.rollcall.com/news/Susan-Collins-Casts-5000th-Vote-Without-a-Miss-216098-1.html
  3. ^ The American Presidency Project - Statement on the Death of Representative William H. Natcher - March 30, 1994"
  4. ^ The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro - Zachary M. Schrag
  5. ^ Washington Magazine, Inc.
  6. ^ Zachary Schrag, 139
  7. ^ Zachary Schrag, 140.

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Garrett L. Withers
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 2nd congressional district

1953–1994
Succeeded by
Ron Lewis
Political offices
Preceded by
Jamie Whitten
Mississippi
Chairman of House Appropriations Committee
1993–1994
Succeeded by
Dave Obey
Wisconsin