Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer
Charles Dharapak  /  AP
Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, and outgoing House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Md., take part in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday.
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updated 1/4/2011 4:02:31 PM ET 2011-01-04T21:02:31

Democrat Nancy Pelosi said she had no regrets on her last day as House speaker Tuesday, a reign that lasted four years and is ending after the November elections.

Pelosi said Tuesday she looks forward to leading a loyal but tenacious opposition in the House. She started by calling Republicans hypocrites for trying to repeal President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, saying it would add to the federal budget deficit.

Republicans won the House majority in the November elections and John Boehner of Ohio will be sworn in as the new speaker on Wednesday. Pelosi — the first female speaker — will be demoted to minority leader.

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"I don't really look back, I look forward, and we look forward to, as I said before, being a willing partner and solving the problems of the American people," Pelosi said at a news conference with other House Democrats. "When our Republican colleagues have positive solutions, again, they will have a willing partner in solving the problems of the American people."

Pelosi said House Democrats will focus on creating jobs, improving the economy and shrinking the federal budget deficit. The deficit hit $1.3 trillion in the budget year that ended in September — a year in which Democrats controlled Congress and the White House.

With unemployment stuck above 9 percent, Pelosi was asked whether she regretted not doing more to improve the nation's still-struggling economy while she was speaker. Pelosi said the nation's economy was in a "near-depression" two years ago, when Obama first took office.

'No regrets'
Since then, she said, the House passed numerous bills designed to create jobs that were ultimately blocked in the Senate, usually because the two chambers couldn't agree on how to pay for them.

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Story: Obama exhorts Republicans to put politics aside

"We have no regrets," Pelosi said. "This administration and this Congress inherited a near-depression. And so the initiatives that we took were positive for the American people. It's not enough to save people from a depression, though. Nine-and-a-half percent unemployment is intolerable and as long as we have that we have to continue to fight for job creation."

Pelosi chided House Republicans for scheduling a vote next week on a bill to repeal the new health care law. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the massive law will slightly reduce the federal deficit over the next 10 years. Repealing the law would therefore increase the deficit, Pelosi said.

Republicans say repealing the law is one of their top priorities, but they are sure to fail in the Senate, where Democrats still have a majority.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Awaiting the tempest in the Tea Party

  1. Transcript of: Awaiting the tempest in the Tea Party

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: And as Savannah mentioned, a lot of the freshmen Republicans arriving in Washington rode into town on a tea party wave; and they're determined now to shake things up, beginning with the federal budget. Our report tonight from NBC 's Andrea Mitchell .

    ANDREA MITCHELL reporting: Mike Kelly is more used to throwing out the first pitch when the Butler BlueSox take on the Slippery Rock Sliders than arguing over the debt ceiling.

    Representative MIKE KELLY: Hey, what a great day we had up in Erie again today where the Ducks , that Wing Ding Dinner and talking about a lot of sporting issues.

    MITCHELL: But now the one-time defensive tackle for Notre Dame has left his Chevy dealership behind in Pennsylvania to drive the 269 miles to Washington facing both culture shock and sticker shock.

    Rep. KELLY: Can you imagine being maxed out on your credit card, not being able to make any payments on it? You call the bank and say, 'Hey, you know what, I need more money. I want to buy a lot more stuff, just raise the debt ceiling.' You know what that phone call ends up in? 'Cut it in half, send it back.' So I got to tell you, I think we have been so irresponsible with our spending.

    MITCHELL: At 62, Kelly is the oldest of the 87 new Republicans . The majority, like Moline , Illinois , pizza shop owner Bobby Schilling ...

    Representative BOBBY SCHILLING: See, it's like riding a bike.

    MITCHELL: ...elected with tea party support.

    Rep. SCHILLING: If you're asking me if I believe that we're taxed enough already, I would say yes. Do I believe in a smaller limited government giving power back to the people? Yes. Less spending? Yes. So I line right up with the tea party folks, yes.

    MITCHELL: And what happens when their bottom line collides with the status quo? Right now they've got the energy and the numbers.

    Representative DAN LUNGREN (Republican, California): They have a greater opportunity to make change. Just because they are more of them in total, they have a chance to persuade the rest of us .

    Rep. KELLY: It's not Washingtonese , it was actually car guys talking so it made it a lot easier.

    MITCHELL: But as Mike Kelly moves in today, he says the key is not becoming part of Washington .

    Rep. KELLY: I don't want to become isolated. I don't want to get inside this belt and start to think like this is my home. It's not my home. It's just a place I come to work.

    MITCHELL: Andrea Mitchell , NBC News, Washington .

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