Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered the welcoming remarks at the bipartisan New Member dinner tonight in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. Below are her remarks, as prepared:
“As Speaker of the House, it is my distinct honor and high privilege to welcome our New Member class for the 111th Congress and their families to the United States Capitol.
“For the first time in many years, this dinner is bipartisan, and I would like to take the opportunity to recognize and thank Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Republican Leader John Boehner for their outstanding leadership.
“With great confidence in your abilities, and great faith in the future, your constituents have sent you to these halls to represent them.
“Your job title is the description of your work here: representative. I'm sure you agree that there is no higher honor.
“In the Capitol, you will serve three things: your constituents, your conscience, and the Constitution.
“Just like our nation, our New Member class is impressive because it is so diverse: your class includes veterans, educators, attorneys, small business people, academics, public servants, and philanthropists.
“We will be drawing on your strengths and relying on your experiences.
“The challenges before us are formidable. Some can be solved immediately; others will take more time.
“To solve all of them, we must govern from the middle - reaching across the aisle to work in a bipartisan way and build consensus.
“We will work together with greatest civility. As Thomas Jefferson said, ‘Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.'
“And we will work together to forge solutions to the great challenges we face, especially to rebuild our economy to create good-paying jobs here at home.
“President Kennedy once said, ‘to govern is to choose.' With great faith and optimism, your constituents have sent you here to choose: to choose how to solve the pressing needs of our time and to choose how best to improve opportunity for the future generations.
“You will make many of those choices from the House floor, which tonight you will have the great privilege of visiting for the first time as a soon to be New Member.
“We have a great deal of work ahead of us. Let us begin today.
“It is in the spirit of bipartisanship that I am so pleased to wish Leader Boehner a happy birthday today. Happy Birthday, Mr. Leader!”