Pelosi Floor Speech Honoring Retiring House Parliamentarian John Sullivan


Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today to honor retiring House Parliamentarian John Sullivan.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I thank the Speaker for yielding and I’m proud to join him to honor the long and distinguished service of the House Parliamentarian, John Sullivan.

“For 25 years, as has been said, he has served the House with distinction and dignity, integrity and intellect.  He has used his keen mind, excellent legal training, and commitment to public service to make non-partisan, objective decisions.  Always first in his mind was the Constitution and therefore, his undying respect for the institution of Congress.  Indeed, through his service and his examples, John Sullivan has become an institution himself, a source of wise counsel and parliamentary leadership.  And though his name rarely makes headlines, and his hard work is seldom noticed in the public eye, the American people have benefited greatly from his extraordinary career.

“A proud son of northwest Indiana, John Sullivan was a lawyer by training, a graduate of the Air Force Academy, and served our nation in the Judge Advocate General’s office of the Air Force.  He went on to advise the House Armed Services Committee, before joining the Parliamentarian’s office.  He would ultimately hold the title of Parliamentarian of the House of Representatives, a post occupied by only three others in the past 75 years.  Wow.  He has been a fair and independent voice, a professional of the highest caliber, a careful steward of the rules of the House – a true public servant.

“Mr. Speaker, as a point of personal pride, on June 2nd 1987, I was sworn-in as a result of a special election.  And I was the first Member of Congress to take the Oath of Office during John’s tenure.  He will always hold, for many reasons, he will hold a long place of honor in the history of the House.  And in my personal history as well.

“In a recent story on his career, John Sullivan summed up the key characteristics of his success.  In his own words, he said: ‘you have to be very attentive to every syllable being uttered and able to think on your feet,’ as the Speaker said.  Attention to detail, quick thinking, staying attuned to the letter of the law – these were the hallmarks of John Sullivan’s service.  He has left a lasting legacy, and I am confident that his deputy and replacement, Tom Wickham, will continue in the same fine tradition.  We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our Parliamentarians, we owe a special debt of gratitude, and our heartfelt thanks on this day, to our Parliamentarian, John Sullivan.  He has earned the respect and admiration of Members of Congress, and he will be missed.  We wish him, his wife Nancy, and his children our best wishes for their future endeavors.

“Congratulations and thank you, John Sullivan.”

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