By Lisa Mascaro
On this, her 25th anniversary year in Congress, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), has been feted from coast to coast - including a party with U2 singer Bono earlier this week - but the celebration arrived briefly Thursday on the House floor.
The moment was both tender and awkward as House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) noted the milestone for the Californian, who had been the nation's first female speaker - until his party's election gains in 2010 booted her from the job.
“The gentle-lady and I have differing political philosophies and we have had some real battles here on the floor,” Boehner said. “But I know I speak for the whole House when I rise today and say to the gentle-lady from California, Ms. Pelosi, congratulations on 25 years of real service to this institution.”
Boehner, who spoke sans trademark tears that often well up on occasions like this, noted that he passed the gavel to Pelosi when she became the nation's first female speaker in 2007.
“It wasn't so joyful to hand it back over,” Pelosi quipped.
The impromptu celebration arranged by the No. 2 Democrat in the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland who once battled Pelosi for the top leadership post - came as Pelosi has been celebrating her 25th anniversary in talks and events nationwide.
Former President George H.W. Bush invited her to speak at his presidential library at Texas A&M University, where she gave a Presidents Day talk on political civility. And this week, Bono and other celebrities honored Pelosi during a New York City fundraiser.