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Pelosi Remarks Before Passing Gavel to Speaker John Boehner

Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks in the House chamber following the re-election of Congressman John Boehner of Ohio as Speaker of the House of Representatives for the 113th Congress.  Below are the Leader's remarks as delivered:   

“Colleagues.  Colleagues.  To my fellow Members of the House of Representatives, it is a high honor to welcome you to the 113th Congress.  To our newest Members of Congress, it is a special privilege and honor to welcome you and your families and extend congratulation to the newest Members of Congress, welcome.  

“To reach this day, each of us has been strengthened by our faith and our families.  With a full and grateful heart, I want to thank my family: my husband of 49 years, Paul Pelosi; our children, Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul, and Alexandra; our grandchildren, who are represented today by our granddaughter Madeleine; and I have to include the D’Alesandro family of Baltimore in that gratitude as well.  And I must thank my constituents in San Francisco for giving me the privilege of representing that beautiful and diverse city in the Congress of the United States.

“Each of us is here today is truly a representative, a representative in the truest sense of the word: to represent the highest hopes and aspirations of the American people.  

“On New Year’s Eve – some of you, a large number of Members of Congress joined hundreds of people at the National Archives building where we observed at midnight the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.  At midnight, there was an enactment of Harriet Tubman ringing the bell, ringing the bell, and as she rang the bell she said: ‘now we are free.’  It was quite an incredible moment and it was one that ushered in what President Lincoln would call ‘a new birth of freedom’ for his era and for generations to come.  That transformative moment in our history is a reminder of the best traditions we have as a people: the ability and the obligation of each generation of Americans to renew the promise of our founders, to carry forward the torch of progress, to reignite the American Dream.  This is who we are as Americans.  This is the character of our country.  This is the strength of our democracy.

“The strength of our democracy rests on a strong and thriving middle class – the backbone of our democracy that middle class is.  So we have a moral imperative to invest in good-paying jobs here at home and in the prosperity of our people, as we build our infrastructure and reduce the deficit.  We must ensure that innovation rests at the heart of our success; that we remain first in science, technology, engineering and energy; that we educate and prepare our young people for the opportunities of tomorrow, and when we ‘Make it in America’ all of America’s families can make it in America.

“The strength of our democracy also demands that we restore the confidence of the American people in our political process.  We must empower the voters, we must remove obstacles of participation in our democracy for all Americans.  We must increase the level of civility and reduce the role of money in our elections.  When we do, when we do we will elect more women, more minorities, more young people to public office and that’s a good thing.  

“The American people are what make our country great.  By and large the United States is a nation of immigrants – built, enriched, and strengthened by men, women, and children who share our patriotism and seek the American Dream.  The strength of our democracy will be advanced by bold action for comprehensive immigration reform.

“Today, we take an oath to protect and defend our Constitution, our people, and our freedom.  To protect and defend: that is our first responsibility.  And our democracy requires that we each uphold the duty of keeping Americans safe in their homes, in their schools, and in their neighborhoods.  As we mourn the families of Newtown, we know that ensuring the safety of all Americans would be a truly meaningful tribute to the children and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School.  For the strength of our democracy, for the sake of our children, let us work together to protect and defend all of our people.  

“In the same year that President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the Statue of Freedom was unveiled atop the Capitol dome.  It continues – that dome – it continues to be a beacon of freedom to the world and a source of inspiration for all who have had the honor to serve in Congress.  As we take our oath of office today, let us renew the promise of our freedom.  Let us work in friendship and partnership to live up to the legacy of our founders and the aspirations of our constituents.   Let us renew the strength of our democracy by reigniting the American Dream.

“As we celebrate this moment, let us honor and thank those Americans who protect our democracy and secure our freedom: our veterans and our men and women in uniform, their families, and wherever they serve.  God bless them.  God Bless America.  Thank you all.  

“Now the House will continue to be led by a proud son of Ohio, a man of conviction, and a public servant of resolve.  Speaker Boehner is a leader who has earned the confidence of his Conference and the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.  He is a man of faith: faith in God, faith in our country, and faith in his family.  As we congratulate him, we also congratulate and thank his wife Debbie, and their two daughters Lindsay and Tricia, and the entire Boehner family.

“Speaker Boehner: I know all too well that we will not always agree.  But I hope, with all my heart, that we will find common ground that is a higher, better place for our country.  Surely we can be touched by ‘the better angels of our nature,’ so beautifully expressed by President Lincoln.

[Leader Pelosi Hands Gavel to Speaker Boehner]

“This is the people’s House.  This is the people’s gavel.  It represents a sacred trust.  May we all fulfill that trust and make real the ideals of democratic government.  With respect for our Constitution, with faith in the American people, with hope for the future of our country, I present the people’s gavel to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner.  

“May God bless you.

[Applause]

“May God bless you, Speaker Boehner.  May God bless this Congress.  May God always bless the United States of America.

“My colleagues, the Speaker of the House: John Boehner.”