June 18, 2009

Gillibrand, Rangel Announce New State Department Building Will Honor the Late Ron Brown

Rangel’s Bill Unanimously Passes the Senate

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Congressman Charles B. Rangel announced today that the United States Senate passed legislation originally introduced by Congressman Rangel in the House of Representatives which designates a new State Department building in New York City after Ron Brown, the late Commerce Department Secretary and New York resident who died in a plane crash in 1996.  The bill, which was passed in the House of Representatives this past March, passed the Senate unanimously last night.

The new 26-story building, located at 799 United Nations Plaza across the street from the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly, will house the United States delegation to the U.N., which carries out the nation's participation in the world body.  It will be named the Ronald H. Brown United States Mission to the United Nations Building.  The building is expected to be completed this fall.

"I am pleased and excited for the people of New York, especially Harlem, that the Senate has passed this legislation to honor the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown," Congressman Rangel said.  "This bill, which I have introduced in the past three Congresses, is long overdue.  Thanks to the leadership of Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, and the support of my New York colleague, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, I feel very hopeful that Congress will finally and rightfully recognize this great public servant as one of the greatest international salesman of the United States in our history."  

"My relationship with Ron Brown was longstanding and personal," added Congressman Rangel.  "While in school, I was a desk clerk at the famous Theresa Hotel in Harlem where Ron's father worked as the manager.  Ron and his family lived there, so I got to know him at an early age and witness the beginnings of a remarkable career that he staked out for himself."

"As Secretary of Commerce under the Clinton administration, he became one of the greatest ambassadors that the American government ever had abroad," Congressman Rangel said.  "He did more than just extend trade and get people to buy our goods and services.  He extended love, attention, and sensitivity, especially in the developing countries where we had not spent the time that we should have.  He not only sold our wares, but was able to sell our reputation as a country that wanted to help other countries."

"I am proud to have supported Chairman Rangel's legislation that will provide a long overdue and fitting tribute to the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "Ron Brown was a truly remarkable person and an outstanding public servant for our country. Naming this building in his honor will ensure that his important legacy of expanding economic opportunity, while enhancing America's reputation around the world, will be passed on to all future members of the United States delegation to the United Nations."

Brown also served as deputy executive director at the National Urban League, helped revive and reunite the Democratic Party as the Democratic National Committee Chairman, and was instrumental in the election of President Bill Clinton in 1992.  Brown was the first African American to chair a national political party and serve as Secretary of Commerce, being appointed in 1993.  As Secretary, he effectively utilized and expanded the role of the Department and was known for his amiable political style and his deft skill in negotiations.  He effectively promoted U.S. trade, expanded foreign markets for American businesses, placed a focus on Africa, and spurred domestic job growth and economic development.

The Department of State requested that Ron personally undertake an official Commerce Department trade mission to boost economic reconstruction of the war torn region of former Yugoslavia.  On April 3, 1996, he died when the plane carrying him crashed on the coast of the Adriatic Sea.