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Pelosi Remarks at Kennedy Institute Dinner

Washington D.C. - Speaker Pelosi delivered the following remarks at the Kennedy Institute Dinner.  Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared:

“Thank you, Charlie [Gibson] for that kind introduction and for your great coverage of the United States Senate. 

“I would like to thank the entire Kennedy family for the honor of participating tonight: especially Vicki, Kara, Teddy Jr., and Patrick. 

“Thank you, Jack Connors, for your leadership on behalf of the Kennedy Institute.  It is appropriate that the Institute will overlook the harbor in Boston that Senator Kennedy so loved and will study the United States Senate that he so revered. 

“As Speaker, I am proud that the House has been able to do our share to support the study of the Senate through the Kennedy Institute. 

“Even thought Teddy didn't serve in the House, he served with the House to advance his grand vision for America.  And he had family ties to the House - through his grandfather Honey Fitz, his brother President Kennedy, and his son Patrick. 

“Many of us in the House who worked with Teddy also learned from Teddy.  Teddy was the master of the legislative process.  When George Miller first came to Congress in 1975, he would go to conference committees to watch Ted Kennedy practice his craft.  George said that Kennedy saw him at one such conference and asked what he was doing there, noting that George would never get his amendment included.  The young Miller replied that he knew that, but he wanted to learn how Kennedy got his own amendments included.

“What George learned was that Teddy brought to the table every essential ingredient to successful legislating. He started every issue with the clearest sense of purpose.  He was tenacious and hard working.  He had the best staff on the Hill.  And he was the best prepared person in the room.

“Teddy knew how to cultivate friends and allies. During the tense negotiations of No Child Left Behind, a Democratic Senator proposed an amendment that Teddy opposed.    At that moment, Splash jumped up and put his paws on the opposing Senator.  And the Chairman barreled, ‘I don't like your idea, and neither does Splash.'

“A call from Ted Kennedy could change your schedule, priorities, or agenda.  Ted would call George Miller and say, ‘George, Eunice is coming to see you.'  George replied, ‘Oh really, it's not on my schedule.'  And Teddy boomed, ‘It is now.'

“I too learned from Teddy.  I was an intern for Senator Brewster the same year that Ted Kennedy came to the Senate.  We were told that the Kennedy office set the standard of excellence: constituent mail was delivered in the morning, and responses went back out in the afternoon. 

“More than 20 years later, I told my staff about the Kennedy standard of honoring the requests of our constituents. 

“On the day I became Speaker, Senator Kennedy gave me a framed history of all those ever to serve as Speaker.  Quite small were the photos of my predecessors surrounding a larger picture of me. 

“That was classic Teddy: so thoughtful, always trying to make others center stage. 

“When I called him later that day to thank him, I pointed out that not only was I the first woman Speaker, but also the first Californian.  And he told me that there were eight from Massachusetts.
 
“Senator Kennedy's relationship to the House became a very special one when his son Patrick came to serve with us.  He took great pride in Patrick's leadership and learning a thing or two.  The whole country gained from the Kennedy-Kennedy partnership with the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. 

“Whether the issue was higher education, IDEA, children's health insurance, health care reform, or No Child Left Behind, Ted was guided by a core belief in civil rights. 

“Sadly, Senator Kennedy left us exactly one year after his speech at the Democratic Convention in Denver.  There, he inspired the nation with his optimism, vitality, and courage.  There, he helped launch a new young President - President Barack Obama - into office to carry the torch of progress. 

“Senator Kennedy's legacy lives on - through his family, through the millions of lives he affected, and through the Kennedy Institute.”