Rome, Italy - Speaker Nancy Pelosi today addressed the Italian Chamber of Deputies as part of an official delegation visit. Pelosi was invited to speak before the Chamber by President Gianfranco Fini. Below are the Speaker's remarks entitled, “Strong Allies for a Secure Future - U.S. / Italian Relations and Future Challenges,” as prepared:
“Thank you, President [Gianfranco] Fini for that kind introduction and for welcoming my distinguished delegation and me to the Chamber of Deputies. We are honored to be with you today.
“Our delegation includes:
- Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus John Larson of Connecticut
- Chairman George Miller of California
- Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut
- Congressman William Pascrell of New Jersey
- Chairwoman Anna Eshoo of California
- Chairman Edward Markey of Massachusetts
- Chairman Michael Capuano of Massachusetts
“It is both a personal, as well as an official privilege, to receive your gracious welcome.
“This is my first visit to Rome as Speaker of the House of Representatives, but I will never forget my first visit to Rome when I was a young girl.
“My father, Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr., was Mayor of Baltimore; and, therefore, our family was received by the Mayor of Rome.
“He proclaimed us honorary citizens of Rome.
“Can you imagine what that meant to our Italian American family?
“We were filled with much joy and pride.
“My family's background is as diverse as the map of Italy, with grandparents and great-grandparents born in Abruzzi, Venice, Genoa, Campobasso and Sicily. My husband, Paul's, father was born in Potenza and his mother in Tuscany.
“In the neighborhood in Baltimore I grew up in, all of these regions were represented and many more. The same is true of the city I proudly represent today in Congress - San Francisco.
“There was much said about my making history as the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. I am just as proud to be the first Italian American Speaker of the House.
“The framers of the U.S. Constitution selected the Speaker of the People's House to be the third highest office in our government.
“And so, as the first Italian American Speaker, and with great pride in my Italian American heritage, I am honored to stand before you today, wearing the Knight's Cross, the highest decoration of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy.
“For more than six decades, the United States and Italy have worked together successfully to advance security and peace. Our bond is uniquely strong because of the vital role daughters and sons of Italy have played in the United States from its discovery to today.
“I thank President Napolitano, with whom we were honored to meet this morning. President Napolitano has dedicated his life to service to the Italian Republic, first as a young man who took up arms against Fascism, then in the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate, and now as President of the Republic.
“Tomorrow, our delegation looks forward to meeting with Prime Minister Berlusconi and members of the cabinet as we work to strengthen our vital alliance.
“I appreciate President Fini's invitation to our delegation to meet with you.
“As legislators, we share a special, direct connection to the will of the people's that is what makes our inter-parliamentary dialogue so important.
“Only through the people are we empowered to grow our economies, keep Italy and the United States safe, and preserve our planet.
“Only with their support can we strengthen the more than 60-year alliance between the United States and Italy that has protected our nations and contributed to the peace of the world.
“President Fini made this point clear last September at our meeting at the G-8 heads of parliament in Japan. His experience as Foreign Minister serves the Chamber of Deputies, and our inter-parliamentary discussions, well because the many challenges we face will require international cooperation.
“Today, I bring you the greetings of the Congress of the United States and of our new President, Barack Obama.
“Once again, we are in Italy to thank our troops for their service and to thank the Italian people and the Italian government for the hospitality that you have extended to the U.S. military.
“On Saturday, we were at Aviano Air Base to meet with the brave airmen who serve there and to acknowledge the Italian military's cooperation.
“On Sunday, our delegation paid our respects at the American Cemetery and Memorial Site in Florence and thanked the local officials and Italian volunteers who help preserve the memory of our fallen heroes.
“On Wednesday, we will go to NATO Joint Forces Command in Naples, which is a spearhead of NATO and essential to our continued mission of providing security and stability.
“The United States has no better partner in NATO than Italy.
“Today's meeting between our delegation from the U.S. Congress and the members of the Chamber of Deputies will help transform how we work together to confront the major challenges of our age.
“Whether the challenges are stabilizing and growing the global economy, tracking and defeating terrorist networks, or responding to the imperative of global warming, we must work together to create a more prosperous and secure world for our children and grandchildren.
“Today, workers on both sides of the Atlantic are concerned about their economic well-being and they look to us for policies that will grow our economies now and into the future.
“On January 20, President Obama stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and pledged ‘action, bold and swift… not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.'
“On Friday, Congress passed an economic recovery package designed to create and save millions of jobs and to put the United States on more solid economic footing.
“Members of this delegation provided leadership:
- Chairman Miller - a strong emphasis on education
- Chairman Markey - leadership on renewable energy
- Chairman Larson and Congressman Pascrell - work for the biggest tax cut for middle class in U.S. history
- Congresswoman Eshoo - investments in science
- Chairman Capuano - fighting for infrastructure and transportation
- Chairwoman DeLauro - her focus on children and nutrition
“In addition, working with President Obama, Congress will strive to restore confidence in U.S. financial markets so that the world can again trust the safety and soundness of the financial system.
“With our own economic recovery, America is committed to leading the way to a world-wide recovery. We see that as our responsibility.
- The United States has agreed along with all G20 countries on the necessity of cooperation on financial reforms and on trade policy in order to restore confidence in our interconnected markets.
- The recent G-7 meeting in Rome recognized that because financial markets are global, multilateral cooperation is essential.
- We look forward to progress on these goals at the next G20 financial summit in London this April.
- We also hold great confidence that Italy's presidency of the G8 will ensure that this summer's meetings on the beautiful island of La Maddelena will produce progress that benefits all workers in the global economy.
- Our inter-parliamentary discussions will continue during the G-8 Heads of Parliament meeting in Rome in September.
“While the global economic downturn has dominated the news of late, security concerns are still at the top of our agenda. Protecting our people is our first responsibility as elected officials.
“The threat of terrorist networks of global reach, with destructive aims, has not abated.
“Threats remain that demand action in defense of our people and our shared ideals.
“Italy is playing a vital and constructive role through its continued commitment to peacekeeping missions.
“In Afghanistan, Italian troops and trainers are helping a poor nation lift itself up.
“In the Middle East, Italian peacekeepers have supported the UN in Lebanon, and Italian humanitarian assistance is bringing relief to Palestinian children and families.
“In the United States, President Obama has pledged a ‘new era of international cooperation.' He believes, as many of us do, that just as NATO protected the security of Europe in the last century, a strengthened Atlantic alliance can meet the challenges of this new and dangerous age.
“This new era will be built on cooperation, not condescension, on listening, not lecturing. With the United States, the great nations of Europe, like Italy, will once again be treated as full partners.
“As the United States seeks a stronger, more respectful partnership in confronting terrorist threats, we now offer new and long-overdue cooperation on one of the greatest security and environmental threats of our time: global warming.
“In his Inaugural Address, President Obama's pledged that the United States would ‘harness the sun and the wind and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.' That is why our economic recovery legislation makes substantial new investments in the scientific research that will reduce the need for fossil fuels, create new jobs, and help us combat global warming.
“Many of us in Congress understand that the nations that have benefited the most from the carbon-based economy have the most responsibility to reduce its negative impact on our planet. President Obama has set a goal for the United States of reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
“In the U.S. House of Representatives, we have set an aggressive timeline of moving climate change legislation through committee by the end of May. It is my hope that we can pass climate change legislation before the Copenhagen climate change convention in December.
“Europeans are the recognized leaders on climate change and the European Union is to be commended for its strong commitment to substantial emissions reductions.
“Tomorrow, our delegation will participate in a panel discussion led by former Prime Minister [Giuliano] Amato to exchange ideas on climate change.
“When Ambassador Giovani Castellaneta, who serves Italy so excellently in Washington, visited my office on Friday, he emphasized how the demands for energy have impacted the food supply. He spoke with pride of Italy's response to the food crisis. On Wednesday, our delegation will once again meet with leaders of the World Food Program to continue our discussion.
“Let future generations say that we had the vision to see the problem of global warming and the wisdom to confront the danger together.
“America is a land discovered by an Italian, named for an Italian, and built by millions of Italian Americans. The shared ties of history and culture only serve to strengthen the U.S.--Italy alliance in this new century.
“Our friendship serves the people of our countries and the world well. As Speaker of the House, I look forward to working with all of you to provide a more secure and more prosperous future for our children.
“Thank you for the honor of being with you today.
“God bless America. Viva Italia!”
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In addition to the Speaker, the following members of the delegation are: John Larson, Democratic Caucus Chair; George Miller, Chair of the Education and Labor Committee; Rosa DeLauro, Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture; Ed Markey, Chair of Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming; Anna Eshoo, Chair of the House Select Intelligence Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management; Michael Capuano, Member of the House Financial Services Committee; and Bill Pascrell, Jr., Member of the House Homeland Security Committee.