Pelosi Remarks Before Passing Gavel to Speaker Paul D. Ryan
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today in the House Chamber following the election of Congressman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 115th Congress. Below are the Leader’s remarks as delivered:
“It is my honor to join Speaker Ryan in welcoming all of you to the 115th Congress. To new Members and your families, in this special moment, I offer a special greeting and special congratulations.
“Each of us comes here sustained by the love of our own family and the trust of our constituents. I am grateful to my husband Paul, our five children, our nine grandchildren, and my D’Alesandro family – especially our patriarch, my brother Thomas D’Alesandro III.
“And to the people of San Francisco: Thank you once again for the privilege of representing our beautiful and diverse city.
“In a brief span of days, we will inaugurate a new president, Donald Trump, and new vice president, our former colleague Mike Pence. At that noon hour, we will enact the peaceful transfer of power that is the bedrock of our Republic.
“For eight years, our country has been graced by the trail-blazing leadership and dignity of President Obama and Michelle Obama.
“At their side have been the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden.
“Let us give the Obamas, the Bidens and their families our thanks for all they have given America.
“Today, as we celebrate the renewal of our democracy, let us pay tribute to the men and women in uniform; those who serve or have served, and their families – whose sacrifice and bravery are guarantors of our democracy. Let us thank our men and women in uniform.
“In this chamber, we stand at the very heart of the American experiment. Every time each of us steps onto this floor, we carry with us the hopes and the hurts of those who have sent us here. We surely have distinct political identities as Republicans, as Democrats. But above all, we are all Americans.
“Here, we have the responsibility and the power to lift the lives, and the hopes of the American people. Our first responsibility is to secure the nation – embodied in the oath we take to support and defend.
“We must be both strong and smart in defending our land, defeating terrorists, and advancing our vital interests in a world of promise and peril. America’s actions must always be equal to America’s values, honoring our Constitution, and respecting our men and women in uniform.
“Another responsibility is to further secure our economy and truly secure opportunity for hard-working families. We in this Congress must focus on job creation and growing paychecks everyday – for everyone, and everywhere in our country.
“From the rural heartlands, the cities, and the suburbs, we must ensure that those who do their part have the opportunity to buy a home, address the aspirations of their children, and retire with dignity. And our responsibility is also to secure our democracy.
“Our founders pledged their sacred honor to create a democracy; a government of the many, not a government of the money. Now our sacred trust is to keep that covenant. We cannot permit our democracy: to be suborned by the checkbooks of the powerful or to be subverted by the dark operations of a foreign regime.
“All of us cherish our ideals. We do have our differences – and they are real. But I hope that we will each be humble enough to accept the good faith of others.
“I hope too that we will find wisdom from the Scriptures where it says, ‘To minister to the needs of God’s creation – humanity and nature – is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.’
“In that spirit, in order to meet the needs of the American people, House Democrats pledge to seek common ground wherever we can: To forge a bipartisan path forward on job-creating infrastructure, to make taxes and foreign trade fair to American workers, to help Americans balance work and family life, and to ‘drain the swamp’ of big money from our campaigns, all of these provisions, President-elect Trump has pledged.
“We will seek common ground. But we will stand our ground wherever in good conscience we must.
“If there is an attempt to destroy the guarantee of Medicare, harm [Medicaid], Social Security, or the Affordable Care Act, Democrats will stand our ground.
“If there is an assault on clean air and clean water; on civil rights, women’s rights, or LGBT rights; if DREAMers and their immigrant families face the nightmare of deportation, Democrats will stand our ground.
“And if there is an attempt to silence our voices for common sense gun violence prevention, with Gabby Giffords here in the chamber as our witness — Democrats will stand our ground.
“Many of us just celebrated Christmas, the birth of Christ. In sharing in our humanity, God enabled us to participate in His divinity. This spark of divinity is acknowledged in every faith tradition. In recognizing the spark in others, we reaffirm it in ourselves.
“Honoring it, honoring that spark of divinity – we are commanded to respect the dignity and worth of all of God’s children, and to work together for the common good.
“In that spirit, I offer my congratulations to the Speaker of this new Congress, a proud son of Wisconsin, Paul Ryan. He is a leader of principle, immersed in ideas, and gifted with experience.
“As we all know, Paul Ryan has had the full breadth of experience on Capitol Hill – from Tortilla Coast waiter, to Hill staffer, to Congressman. He went on to be a sincere and proud advocate for his point of view as Chairman of the Budget Committee, and as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
“In a place as demanding as the Speakership, I know he gathers strength daily from the family he loves so dearly. From his wife Janna, his children Liza, Charlie and Sam and their entire family. Let us acknowledge the Ryan family.
“Mr. Speaker, God bless them God bless you. God bless the Members of this House. God bless the United States of America. This is the people’s House. This is the people’s gavel. In the people’s name, it is my privilege to hand the gavel to the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.”