Floor Speech on Departure of Deputy Chief of Staff Diane Dewhirst and Senior Policy Advisor Patti Ross
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in recognition of the service of Diane Dewhirst, Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of the Speaker, and Patti Ross, Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Speaker. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to speak out of turn.
Speaker Pro Tempore. Without objection.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, it is with great official pride and personal pride, but some sadness, that I rise to honor the dedicated service of two departing members of the Speaker’s staff: Deputy Chief of Staff Diane Dewhirst and Senior Policy Advisor Patti Ross.
Diane Dewhirst is a pillar of the Speaker's Office and of our Caucus. Indeed, there are a few Members who do not know Diane and even fewer who are unfamiliar with her skills and her contributions. Diane has dedicated decades to Democratic politics, ever since, as a college student, she borrowed her father's red Buick Skylark to drive across Illinois to campaign for the legendary Congressman Ab Mikva. And she has remained in the political arena ever since, working in the DNC and DSCC, holding positions in the Clinton Administration in not one, but six agencies, serving in Senator George Mitchell's office and then serving as a key member of my office when I was Leader and now, Speaker.
Her interest in politics sprang from her commitment to the values of our country and her patriotic spirit. She is a trusted voice, bringing extensive experience, sound judgment and remarkable institutional knowledge to our legislative work. And I know that she takes great pride in our work for women and families, particularly in what is an official moment as Speaker in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which has delivered quality health care to millions of Americans.
Yet, when Diane has made a difference in this institution, she transcends the political, the policy and legislative realm. Over her fifteen years in my office, she has been an outstanding mentor and role model to many, particularly young women. She dedicated her service to this truth, as I always say: ‘When women succeed, America succeeds.’ Thank you, Diane.
Diane’s love of the arts is well-known. She has represented my office in our work with leading cultural institutions, including the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and the National Gallery of Art.
Given her passion and experience in this arena, it is fitting that she is leaving Capitol Hill for the National Endowment for the Arts. Inscribed on the marble façade of the Kennedy Center are President John F. Kennedy's powerful words: ‘The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of the nation, is close to the center of a nation’s purpose, and is a test to the quality of a nation’s civilization.’ At the NEA, Diane's passion for the ‘life of the arts’ will serve this nation’s purpose well.
On behalf of the House of Representatives, I thank Diane, wish her and her husband Bob and their children JoAnna, Billy and Rob much happiness as she begins this next phase. Thank you very much, Diane.
Stand up. Stand up.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Biden Administration, for taking my staff.
Speaker Pelosi. Also departing this week is our Senior Policy Adviser Patti Ross. Patti is simply the gold standard of public service. Indeed, President Biden chose an expert of domestic policymaking in appointing Patti Ross to serve as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Patti has served in my office for over a decade, where she has been an invaluable asset to all of us in our Caucus – and indeed the entire Congress.
Her portfolio spans a major portion of domestic policy – agriculture, nutrition, education and labor, veterans, military families and caregivers. Patti has earned the respect of Members and staff on both sides of the aisle for all of her legislative acumen and accomplishments, but particularly for her iron-clad commitment to our veterans. Coming from a long line of veterans in her family, this dedication is in her DNA. As Speaker, I have seen her commitment firsthand, including her leading the VSO roundtables, which ensure that those who have donned the uniform have a seat at the decision-making the table.
Indeed, one of the many strengths that Patti brings is her experience as a consensus-finder and a coalition-builder, a leader with the courage and the character to fight to ensure that Congress and veterans have a voice at the VA. The unanimous confirmation of Patti Ross last week was therefore a joyous victory for America’s veterans and their families and caregivers.
When I spoke at Patti’s confirmation hearing, I relayed an anecdote from a Congressional delegation visit that she helped plan. This was to France for the 75th anniversary of the Allied D-Day landings and to Belgium and Luxembourg for the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. During that visit, we were honored – as we often have been on these visits – to meet with World War II veterans, including to – one man in his 90’s, whose message to us all was simply, ‘Pray for peace.’ As I said at her hearing: ‘It is with great confidence that I can say Patti Ross, if confirmed, will be a powerful force for peace, for our veterans, their families and caregivers.’
On behalf of the Congress, I congratulate Patti on her well-deserved recognition. Congratulations also to her family and partner Tim. And I thank both Diane and Patti for their consequential service and wish them much success in their new capacities in the Biden Administration. Patti Ross.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Madam Speaker. I yield back.