This afternoon, the 112th Congress convened and Leader Pelosi delivered remarks in the House chamber following the election of Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House:
“It is a high honor to welcome all Members of Congress and their families to the House of Representatives.
“To the new members and their families, let me offer a special welcome and congratulations.
“We all come here to represent our constituents; our respect for each other is rooted in our respect for the people we serve.
“This month we will observe the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. As a student, I was there in the freezing cold and heard the stirring address which inspired generations of Americans to public service.
“In his 1962 State of the Union address, from this same dais, President Kennedy said to Congress, ‘The Constitution makes us…all trustees for the American people, custodians of the American heritage.’
“Today, as we take the oath of office to support and defend the Constitution, we do so as trustees of America’s best hopes and custodians of America’s highest ideals.
“However we may differ, let us never lose sight of our common love for this exceptional nation and our shared obligation to light the way forward.
“Our families have always helped light the way forward for us.
“With a full and grateful heart, let me thank my family: my husband of 47 years, Paul; my children – Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul and Alexandra; and my grandchildren. I’m proud to come from a large family – the youngest of seven – and to acknowledge my brother, Thomas D’Alesandro III, former Mayor of Baltimore.
“Let me thank my constituents in San Francisco, whom I am proud to serve in the spirit of the anthem of our city, the Song of St. Francis.
“And I am grateful to my colleagues for their commitment to equality – which is both our heritage and our hope – giving me the historic honor of serving as the first woman Speaker of the House.
“And now more doors are wide open for all of America’s daughters and granddaughters.
“I was also honored to serve as the first Italian-American Speaker. Like many Americans, my heritage is a source of great pride and a deeply engrained patriotism which summons us to build a stronger nation.
“We recognize that the proudest title we will ever hold is not accorded on this floor. It is the simple dignity of the title American, part of our great democracy that continues to be the greatest hope of liberty and progress for the entire world.
“When I was first elected Speaker, I called the House to order on behalf of America’s children.
“As I now prepare to hand over the gavel, I know one thing above all else. Thanks to you, we have stood for those children and for their families—for their health, their education, the safety of the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the food they eat.
“Thanks to you, for those children and families, we:
• Made the largest-ever commitment to making college more affordable;
• Enacted Wall Street Reform with the greatest consumer protections in history;
• And passed a strong Patient’s Bill of Rights.
• Children with pre-existing conditions can get coverage;
• Young people can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26;
• Pregnant women and breast and prostate cancer patients can no longer be thrown off the insurance rolls;
• Our seniors are paying less for needed prescription drugs.
• Taken together, this will save the taxpayers $1.3 trillion.
“Thanks to you, we advanced the defining American cause of equality for all, from the first days of the Congress with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to the last days with the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’
“And thanks to you, we achieved more for America’s veterans than at any time since the passage of the GI Bill of Rights in 1944. Because of our courageous troops and veterans, we will always be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
“Let us now salute our men and women in uniform.
“We must build a future worthy of their sacrifice, which includes good-paying jobs for them when they come home.
“It is not enough that we staved off a depression. Much more needs to be done to open up the American dream and lift up the American economy.
“The only acceptable outcome is to fully and finally restore a fair prosperity that good-paying jobs provide.
“Our most important job is to fight for American jobs – to make it in America. And so Democrats will judge what comes before Congress by whether it creates jobs, strengthens our middle class, and reduces the deficit – not burdening future generations with debt.
“When the new Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and the new Republican majority, come forward with solutions that address these American challenges, you will find in us a willing partner.
“As we congratulate Speaker Boehner and our Republican colleagues – as we wish them success – we must stand ready to find common ground, to solve problems, and to build a more secure future for all Americans. And as we take the oath of office today to support and defend the Constitution, we must be ever-mindful that it ‘makes us…all trustees for the American people, custodians of the American heritage.’
“Thank you my colleagues for the honor of serving in that proud tradition as Speaker of the House.
“I congratulate the new majority in the House and the new Speaker of the House, John Boehner.
“Now the House will be led by a proud son of Ohio, a man of conviction, a public servant of resolve, and a legislator of skill. Speaker Boehner is a leader who has earned the confidence of his Conference and the respect of his colleagues in the House. He is a man of faith: faith in God, faith in his country, and faith in his family.
“As we congratulate him, we also congratulate and thank his wife Debbie, their two daughters Lindsay and Tricia, and the entire Boehner family.
“Recognizing our roles under the Constitution, united in our love of country, we now engage in a strong symbol of American democracy: the peaceful and respectful exchange of power.
“I will now pass on this gavel—and the sacred trust that goes with it – to the new Speaker.
“God bless you, Speaker Boehner.
“God bless this Congress.
“God bless America.”