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Pelosi Calls for a New America, Built on the Values that Made Our Country Great

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today, giving opening remarks as the 110th Congress began.  Below are her remarks:

'Thank you, Leader Boehner. Thank you, my colleagues. Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speakers.


'I accept this gavel in the spirit of partnership, not partisanship, and I look forward to working with you, Mr. Boehner, and the Republicans in the Congress for the good of the American people.


'After giving this gavel away in the last two Congresses, I am glad someone else has the honor today.


'In this House, we may be different parties, but we serve one country, and our pride and our prayers are united behind our men and women in uniform. They are working together to protect the American people; and in this Congress, we must work together to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.


 'In this hour, we need and pray for the character, courage, and civility of a former Member of this House, President Ford. He healed the country when it needed healing. This is another time, another war, and another trial of American will, imagination, and spirit. Let us honor his memory not just in eulogy, but in dialogue and trust across the aisle.


'I want to join Leader Boehner in expressing our condolences and our appreciation to Mrs. Ford and to the entire Ford family for their decades of leadership and service to our country.


'With today's convening of the 110th Congress, we begin anew. I congratulate all Members of Congress on your election. I especially want to congratulate our new Members of Congress. Let's hear it for our new Members.


'The genius of our Founders was that every 2 years, new Members would bring to this House their spirit of renewal and hope for the American people. This Congress is reinvigorated, new Members, by your optimism and your idealism and your commitment to our country. Let us acknowledge your families whose support have made your leadership possible today.


'Each of us brings to this Congress our shared values, our commitment to the Constitution, and our personal experience. My path to Congress and to the speakership began in Baltimore where my father was the mayor. I was raised in a large family that was devoutly Catholic, deeply patriotic, very proud of our Italian-American heritage, and staunchly Democratic. My parents taught us that public service was a noble calling, and that we had a responsibility to help those in need.


'It is a moment for which we have waited for over 200 years. Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights. But women were not just waiting; women were working. Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America that all men and women are created equal. For our daughters and our granddaughters, today we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters, the sky is the limit. Anything is possible for them.


'The election of 2006 was a call to change, not merely to change the control of Congress, but for a new direction for our country. Nowhere were the American people more clear about the need for a new direction than in the war in Iraq.


'The American people rejected an open-ended obligation to a war without end. Shortly, President Bush will address the Nation on the subject of Iraq. It is the responsibility of the President to articulate a new plan for Iraq that makes it clear to the Iraqis that they must defend their own streets and their own security, a plan that promotes stability in the region and a plan that allows us to responsibly redeploy our troops.


'Let us work together to be the Congress that rebuilds our military to meet the national security challenges of the 21st century.


'Let us be the Congress that strongly honors our responsibility to protect the American people from terrorism.


'Let us be the Congress that never forgets our commitment to our veterans and our first responders, always honoring them as the heroes that they are.


'The American people also spoke clearly for a new direction here at home. They desire a new vision, a new America built on the values that have made our country great.


'Our Founders envisioned a new America driven by optimism, opportunity, and courage. So confident were they in the America that they were advancing that they put on the seal, the great seal of the United States: ``Novus ordo seclorum,'' a new order for the centuries. Centuries; they spoke of the centuries. They envisioned America as a just and good place, as a fair and efficient society, as a source of hope and opportunity for all.


'This vision has sustained us for over 200 years, and it accounts for what is best in our great Nation: liberty, opportunity, and justice.


'Now it is our responsibility to carry forth that vision of a new America into the 21st century. A new America that seizes the future and forges 21st-century solutions through discovery, creativity, and innovation, sustaining our economic leadership and ensuring our national security. A new America with a vibrant and strengthened middle class for whom college is affordable, health care is accessible, and retirement reliable. A new America that declares our energy independence, promotes domestic sources of renewable energy, and combats climate change. A new America that is strong, secure, and a respected leader among the community of nations.


'And the American people told us they expected us to work together for fiscal responsibility, with the highest ethical standards and with civility and bipartisanship.

'After years of historic deficits, this 110th Congress will commit itself to a higher standard: pay-as-you-go, no new deficit spending. Our new America will provide unlimited opportunity for future generations, not burden them with mountains of debt.


'In order to achieve our new America for the 21st century, we must return this House to the American people. So our first order of business is passing the toughest congressional ethics reform in history. This new Congress doesn't have 2 years or 200 days. Let us join together in the first 100 hours to make this Congress the most honest and open Congress in history. 100 hours.


'This openness requires respect for every voice in the Congress. As Thomas Jefferson said, ``Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.'' My colleagues elected me to be Speaker of the House, the entire House. Respectful of the vision of our Founders, the expectation of our people, and the great challenges that we face, we have an obligation to reach beyond partisanship to work for all Americans.


'Let us stand together to move our country forward, seeking common ground for the common good. We have made history; now let us make progress for the American people.


'May God bless our work, and may God bless America.'