Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made history Thursday as her colleagues voted her the first female Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Here is the text of her remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the House, following her election to the top post.
Thank you, Leader Boehner.
I accept this gavel in the spirit of partnership, not partisanship, and look forward to working with you on behalf of the American people.
In this House, we may belong to different parties, but we serve one country. We stand united in our pride and prayers for our men and women in the armed forces. They are working together to protect America, and we, in this House, must also work together to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.
In this hour, we pray for the character, courage, and civility of a former Member of this House - President Ford. He healed the country when it needed healing. This is another time, another war, and another trial of our American will, imagination, and spirit. Let us honor his memory, not just in eulogy, but in dialogue and trust across the aisle. Let us express our condolences and appreciation to Mrs. Ford and the entire Ford family for their decades of service to our country.
With today's convening of the 110th Congress, we begin anew. I congratulate all Members of Congress on their election, especially our new Members. The genius of our Founders is that every two years, new Members bring to this House their spirit of renewal and hope for the American people. This Congress is reinvigorated by your optimism, your idealism, and your commitmentto our country. Let us acknowledge your families, whose support has made your leadership possible.
Each of us brings to this new Congress our shared values, our commitment to the Constitution, and our personal experience.
My path to the Speakership began in Baltimore where my father was Mayor. I was raised in a large family that was devoutly Catholic, deeply patriotic, proud of our Italian American heritage, and staunchly Democratic. My parents taught us that public service was a noble calling, and that we had a responsibility to help those in need. My parents worked on the side of the angels and now they are with them.
I am so proud that my brother Tommy, also a Mayor of Baltimore, is here with my D'Alesandro family today.
Forty-three years ago, Paul Pelosi and I were married. We raised our five children in San Francisco, where Paul was born and raised. I want to thank Paul and our children Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul, and Alexandra and our six magnificent grandchildren for giving me their love, support and the confidence to go from the kitchen to the Congress.
And I thank my constituents in San Francisco for the privilege of representing them in Congress. Saint Francis of Assisi is our city's patron saint, and his prayer is our city's anthem: 'Lord, make me a channel of thy peace; where there is darkness may we bring light, where there is hatred, may we bring love, and where there is despair, may we bring hope.'
It is in that spirit that I was sent to Congress.
And today, I thank my colleagues. By electing me Speaker, you have brought us closer to the ideal of equality that is America's heritage and hope.
This is an historic moment - for the Congress, and for the women of this country. It is a moment for which we have waited more than 200 years. Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights. But women weren't just waiting; women were working. Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal. For our daughters and granddaughters, today we have broken the marble ceiling.
The election of 2006 was a call to change - not merely to change the control of Congress, but for a new direction for our country. Nowhere were the American people more clear about the need for a new direction than in Iraq.
The American people rejected an open-ended obligation to a war without end. Shortly, President Bush will address the nation on the subject of Iraq. It is the responsibility of the President to articulate a new plan for Iraq that makes it clear to the Iraqis that they must defend their own streets and their own security, a plan that promotes stability in the region, and that allows us to responsibly redeploy American forces.
Let us be the Congress that rebuilds our military to meet the national security challenges of the 21st century.
Let us be the Congress that strongly honors our responsibility to protect our people from terrorism.
Let us be the Congress that never forgets our commitment to our veterans and first responders, always honoring them as the heroes they are.
The American people also spoke clearly for a new direction here at home - they desire a new vision, a new America, built on the values that made our country great.
Our Founders envisioned a new America driven by optimism, opportunity, and courage. So confident were they in the new America they were advancing, they put on the great seal of the United States, 'novus ordo seclorum' - a new order for the ages. They envisioned America as a just and good place, as a fair and efficient society, as a source of hope and opportunity for all.
This vision has sustained us for more than 200 years, and it accounts for what is best in our great nation: liberty, opportunity, and justice.
Now it is our responsibility to carry forth that vision of a new America.
A new America that seizes the future and forges 21st century solutions through discovery, creativity, and innovation, sustaining our economic leadership and ensuring our national security.
A new America with a vibrant and strengthened middle class for whom college is affordable, health care accessible, and retirement secure.
A new America that declares our energy independence, promotes domestic sources of renewable energy, and combats climate change.
A new America that is strong, secure, and a respected leader among the community of nations.
The American people told us in the election that they expect us to work together for fiscal responsibility, with the highest ethical standards and civility.
After years of historic deficits, this new Congress will commit itself to a higher standard: pay as you go, no new deficit spending. Our new America will provide unlimited opportunity for future generations, not burden them with mountains of debt.
In order to achieve a new America, we must return this House to the American people. So our first order of business is passing the toughest ethics reform in history. This new Congress doesn't have two years or 100 days to renew itself.
Let us join together in the first 100 hours to make this Congress the most honest and open in history. This openness requires respect for every voice in the Congress. As Thomas Jefferson said, 'Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.' My colleagues elected me to be Speaker of the House - the entire House. Respectful of the vision of our Founders, the expectations of our people, and the great challenges we face, we have an obligation to reach beyond partisanship to serve all Americans.
Let us all stand together to move our country forward, seeking common ground for the common good.
We have made history, now let us make progress for our new America.
May God bless our work, and may God bless America.
For all of America's children, the House will be in order.