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Pelosi: 'Our Nation Needs Action and We Need Action Now'

Washington, D.C. --Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke this afternoon during the opening session of the 111th Congress immediately following her election as Speaker of the House of Representatives.


“Thank you, Leader Boehner.

“Together, we welcome the many new Members of Congress who today join the House of Representatives of the United States of America.  Congratulations to all of our new Members and our re-elected Members.

“Your constituents have placed great trust in you.  Your families have given you the love and support to make your leadership possible.  Let us join together to salute our families of the 111th Congress.

“I also want to thank my family: my husband of 45 years, Paul Pelosi; our children - Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul, and Alexandra; my grandchildren -Alexander, Madeleine, Liam, Sean, Ryan, Paulie, and Thomas.  I also want to acknowledge my brother Tommy D'Alesandro III, former Mayor of Baltimore.

“I want to express my appreciation to the people of San Francisco for granting me the privilege of representing them and serving them in Congress.

“And thank you to my caucus for granting me the historic opportunity of breaking the marble ceiling and to serve, once again, as the first woman Speaker of the House.  

“Leader Boehner: thank you for your generous words and for your commitment to put country ahead of party.  Without reservation, let us stand together--not just today, but in the days ahead--to live up to that resolve.

“Few Congresses and few Presidents in history have been given the responsibility and the privilege of serving the nation in a time of such profound challenge.

“We do so renewed and refreshed by the new Members who join our ranks today. 

“It is in that spirit that I pledge to you--let us all pledge to the American people that: we will look forward, not backward; we will join hands, not point fingers; we will rise to the challenge, recognizing that our love of country is stronger than any issue which may divide us.

“This is the lesson and legacy of the last election: the American people demanded a new era of change and accountability.

“Yes, we have problems as grave as our country has faced in generations.  But now we enter a new Congress and a new era with a powerful sense of hope and pride in our great country.

“Two weeks from today, as Mr. Boehner indicated, on the steps of this Capitol, we will inaugurate the 44th President of the United States.  From the inaugural platform he will look down the long stretch of the National Mall and see the steps of the Lincoln Memorial from which Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. called us to the deepest truth of our founding dream.

“When Barack Obama raises his right hand and takes the oath of office, we will know and the world will witness how far America has come. We will celebrate that moment, but recognize that it is only a beginning.

“Together, with our new President, we as a Congress and as a country must fulfill the rest of America's promise.  All of that promise will not be redeemed quickly or easily. But it must be pursued urgently--with spirited debate, and without partisan deadlock or delay.

“Hardworking, and still hopeful Americans who are losing their jobs, businesses, retirement savings, homes, or are facing foreclosure, cannot wait any longer for us to move from the depths of a recession to the solid ground of honest and fair prosperity for the many and not just the few.

“We need action and we need action now.

“Families and children without health care, and millions more who fear losing coverage or are facing rising costs, cannot afford to wait any longer.

“We need action and we need action now.

“States facing financial crises, which are threatening the education and the health of our children, the well-being of our seniors, and the public safety of our communities, cannot afford to wait any longer.

“We need action and we need action now.

“Our country is challenged by the climate crisis, the need for energy security, and the need for a twenty-first century infrastructure. On all of these issues and many more, we cannot afford to wait.

“Our nation needs action and we need action now.

“America's crises at home are matched by conflicts abroad-- a terrorist threat that could strike there or here. 

“We cannot afford to wait to renew our alliances, our leadership, and our respect in the world.

“We cannot afford to wait to deploy the power of our ideals.

“And for the sake of our security, for the courageous Americans who serve on the front lines, and for our veterans who have bravely served, we cannot afford to wait to modernize and rebuild our military. 

“Every chance we get we must express our appreciation to our heroic men and women in uniform and to their families for their service and their sacrifice to our country.

“Let us show America and the world that we are equal to every test of a turbulent and unprecedented time.

“Let us listen to each other. Let us respect every voice and view. And then together, let us act.

“As we in Congress pledge to reach across the aisle, we recognize that history will measure this decisive moment not just by what we do here in Washington -

but by how we reflect and respect how all Americans work together for the common good to strengthen America's future and faith in itself.

“As we take the oath of office today, we accept a level of responsibility as daunting and demanding as any that previous generations of leadership have faced. 

“With the help of God, the light of our values, the strength of the American people, and the hopes that we have for our children and their future, God will bless us so that America will continue to be, as our Founders predicted more than 200 years ago, ‘a rising not a setting sun.'

“May God bless our work.  And may God continue to bless America. 

“And now as I am sworn in to take the oath of office, I am joined by my grandchildren and invite all the children of the House to the podium.”