Washington, D.C. - Speaker Pelosi delivered remarks tonight at a reception hosted by the Addiction and Mental Health Communities to honor Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island. Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared.
“Thank you for that kind introduction Bill [Emmett] and for your leadership of the Campaign for Mental Health Reform. You have been a partner and advocate in all of Congressman Kennedy's efforts on behalf of mental health.
“I would also like to acknowledge the members of Congressman Kennedy's family who join us today: His mother, Joan Kennedy, his sister, Kara Kennedy, and his aunt, Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith.
“On behalf of all Members of Congress, I come here tonight to pay tribute to Congressman Patrick Kennedy and his contributions to the nation.
“Patrick, of course, follows in the rich Kennedy tradition of public service. But I think it is interesting to note that Patrick has won more elections than any other Kennedy in history. Indeed, he became the youngest member of the Kennedy family to hold elected office when he won election to the Rhode Island House of Representatives at the age of 21.
“In the 22 years since, including nearly 16 years in Congress, Patrick learned the skills of legislating. And then, as you all know, just two years ago, Patrick pulled off a remarkable legislative feat.
“With the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act, Patrick powerfully made the case to the country and the Congress that there is no shame in mental illness. The great shame would have been if Congress had not taken action to ensure that individuals with mental health illnesses and addictions are given the attention, treatment, and resources they need to live a healthy life.
“With Patrick Kennedy in the lead, Congress did take action. It was, the Washington Post noted with admiration, “an act of political jujitsu.”
“Though Congressman Kennedy is leaving the House, he isn't leaving public service: he will begin a new chapter of his life as an advocate - leading the One Mind for Brain Research Initiative.
“By bringing together scientists, government, academia, philanthropy, and patients, and looking across the boundaries of neuroscience, Patrick will foster the next generation of breakthroughs, innovations, and cures.
“Indeed, he may do for brain research in this next decade what President Kennedy did for space research in the 1960's.
“Patrick Kennedy will leave Congress having earned the respect of his colleagues, the admiration of his constituents, and having made a difference in the lives of the American people. But for Patrick, his time here will be only the beginning of a lifetime of accomplishments.”