Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
"I will miss it," said Rep. George Mahon (D.-Tex), who has been a member of the House of Representatives for 44 years and has been one of the more powerful figures in that august body as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, since 1964.
He paused, thought for a minute, and then in the slow, thoughtful way of a committee chairman whom nobody in living memory has dared to rush, he added: "But I'll be happy to miss it - at least for a while."
His eye wandered around Explorers Hall at the National Geographic Society, where he was one of the guests of honor at a party given by Lady Bird Johnson and the Friends of the LBJ Library Tuesday night.
Mahon arrived late at the party, though not quite too late to join in the public speaking that is mandatory whenever a critical mass of Texas politicians are assembled in one place.
He explained that he had been delayed by a vote in his committee on "a $55-million HEW appropriation that involved every cotton gin in Texas."
Other guests of honor, tied up in the last-minute sprint Congress is making to finish its business and go home within the next two weeks, never showed up at all. They included Barbara Jordan, who has been voted by her colleagues The Best Woman in Congress, and Olin E. ("Tiger") Teague, who needs no vote to be recognized as one of the most colorful members. Among his other distinctions, he has 11 medals from World War II, including the bronze and silver stars with two clusters each and the Croix de Guerre - prime qualifications for chairmanship of the Veterans' Affairs Committee.
They were among the six members of the House - a cool 25 percent of the Texas House delegation - who are not running for re-election, and whom Lady Bird Johnson wanted to honor at a sort of farewell party.