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Pelosi: Godspeed, Speaker Hastert

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon to salute former Speaker Dennis Hastert after he gave his farewell speech on the House floor.  Below are her remarks:

'Thank you, my colleagues.  I accept that recognition as recognition of the role of Speaker of the House.  A role that Dennis Hastert performed with great distinction and I rise to salute his leadership.

'Colleagues, you've heard me say on a number of occasions in relationship to Dennis Hastert that in the Congress, as Members of Congress, we hold the title 'honorable' by virtue of our office that we hold.  But in the case of Dennis Hastert, he holds the title of 'honorable' not just for the office he holds, but by virtue of his character, his leadership and contributions to our country.

'About a year and a half ago in June, we all observed a celebration for Speaker Dennis Hastert when he became the longest serving Republican Speaker of the House.  Long may his record stand.  That milestone was a testimony to the great respect he commanded, not only in the Republican Conference, but in this Congress as a whole and in our country. Thank you Dennis Hastert for your record of achievement.

'I want to acknowledge someone in the role I once had, Minority Leader, who is with us today and honors us with his presence and is, again, a tribute to the leadership of Dennis Hastert, Leader Bob Michel.

'Many of you know but I think it bears repeating that Dennis Hastert has long made a commitment to our country.  First, as a teacher for 16 years of our children, and a coach, as he reminds us.

'He then went on to the state legislature in Illinois  And then in 1986, he came to the Congress of the United States, where he has served with great distinction.  In 1999, this Congress elected him Speaker of the House.  He brought the values of the heartland, and Illinois's 14th District to the Speaker's office, and we have all benefited from that.

'Though we from time to time on occasion differed on issues, we all agree on the importance of public service - the kind of public service that has been the hallmark of Speaker Hastert's career, whether in a classroom or in the Congress of United States.  

'Today I want to join my friend Dennis in saluting Jean for sharing Dennis with us for all these years and for her role as a teammate to him in his contributions to his country.  Congratulations to you, Jean.  And thanks to Joshua and Ethan, and to your entire family. 

'Mr. Speaker, I know I speak for every Member of this House when I thank you for many things that I could enumerate.  I want to mention one in particular, which I have mentioned to this House before.  We all were part of history when Rosa Parks became the first African American woman to lie in state under the Capitol dome.  It was a great day for Congress and for our country.  It simply would not have happened without the leadership of Speaker Dennis Hastert.  Thank you.

'As you can imagine, it is always a pleasure for me to say I know I speak for every Member of this House, but I know I do when I say thank you for your leadership.  Congratulations on a great career.  I know great things are yet to come.  Best wishes to you and your family.  Godspeed in your future.  God truly blessed America with your service to our country.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.'