Pelosi Remarks Before Passing Gavel to Speaker John Boehner
“My colleagues of the United States House of Representatives, it is a high honor to welcome you and your families to the 114th Congress. To our newest Members, it is a special pleasure to give you an exceptional welcome and congratulations. Welcome to our newest Members.
“As was indicated by the vote, many of our colleagues from the state of New York are not with us because they’re attending the funeral of Governor Mario Cuomo. I extend condolences to our colleagues from the state of New York, and have extended the sympathies of many in this body to Governor Cuomo’s widow, Matilda, and to his family. As an Italian-American, I’m especially proud of his leadership, and send extended sympathies to his family. Thank you, Cuomo family.
“None of us would be standing here without the strength and support of our families. Today, I’m going to thank my dear husband of 51 years, Paul Pelosi; our five children; our nine grandchildren; all the Pelosis and D’Alesandros. But as we are standing, let all of us applaud all of our families.
“To my constituents and my Democratic colleagues, to my constituents in San Francisco: thank you for the privilege of serving in the House. But to my colleagues, I thank you for the honor of serving as leader. But all of us should applaud all of our constituents for sending us here. So let us again applaud our constituents.
“Mr. Speaker, each one of us, as you know, represents Republicans, Democrats, Independents and others. And we should always pay tribute to all the American people. The American people have called each of us to serve them.
“They have entrusted us with their hopes, their dreams; they have asked us to address their challenges. The financial stability of a strong middle class and those that aspire to it, is the bedrock of our economy and the backbone of our democracy. We have a moral imperative to ensure that working men and women enjoy the bounty of their unprecedented productivity, and to expand the purchasing power of families.
“To that end, today, Democrats will put forward a legislative package to put Americans back to work building our roads and bridges and meeting the needs of the American people – paid for by bringing our tax dollars back home; and to increase paychecks for working families.
“We invite our Republican colleagues to join us in supporting the Stop Corporate Expatriation - and Invest in America’s Infrastructure Act. It’s time to stop rewarding companies that move overseas, and instead use those dollars to create good-paying jobs here at home.
“We ask for Republican support and action for the CEO/Employee Pay Fairness Act: legislation to ensure that workers share in the fruit of their productivity, denying CEOs the ability to claim tax deductions on annual income over $1 million – unless they give their employees a well-deserved raise. We must have an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few – and we hope Republicans will join us to achieve better infrastructure and bigger paychecks for the working people of our country. Better infrastructure; bigger paychecks.
“We open the 114th Congress, in the year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act – one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in our history. President Lyndon Johnson and Congress passed it, the President signed it, Martin Luther King and others, along with our own John Lewis fought for and inspired it. We must continue to inspire the engagement of every American. It is the vote that preserves our democracy, ends injustice, advances dreams and sustains our freedom.
“In terms of protecting our freedoms, let us recognize, salute and thank all those brave Americans who protect those rights, indeed, protect all of our liberty – our men and women in uniform, our veterans, and our military families.
“Mr. Speaker, today, we are at the start of a new year and a new Congress – with fresh opportunity for the American people. Today is the Feast of the Epiphany – the visit of the Magi. So, let us have our own epiphany: For at this moment, on this day, we are not just Republicans or Democrats; we are Americans not just in name, but in spirit – standing on higher ground than the last election.
“And my hope is that in the inevitable exchanges and clashes that may happen in the months ahead, we will not lose sight of the truth that is as fresh as today’s ceremony and as historic as our Republic: the ideals that unite us are stronger than the issues that divide us in this House.
“That does not mean that we are dispensing with all disagreements and debates. Our democracy is robust precisely because we have beliefs – and we stand proudly, even persistently for them. And our democracy endures and prevails because in the end, we are humble enough to find a way forward together.
“So my fellow colleagues of the 114th Congress: Let us uphold our deep and different convictions, but let us honor our common obligation to our country. In this Congress, we will do so under the leadership of Speaker John Boehner.
“This House will continue to be led by a proud son of Ohio and a happy fan of the Ohio State football team. A man of abiding faith, great heart and deep dedication, John Boehner is truly a gentleman from Ohio. Congratulations to you, John, Mr. Speaker, to Debbie, your daughters Lindsay and Tricia, and the entire Boehner family. Thank you for sharing John Boehner with us, Debbie. God bless you and your family, Mr. Speaker.
“May God continue to bless the Members of this House of Representatives. This is the People’s House. This is the People’s gavel. In the people’s name, it is my privilege to hand it to the Speaker of the House for the 114th Congress, the Honorable John Boehner. Mr. Speaker. God bless you Mr. Speaker. God Bless America.”