Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders held a press availability this afternoon following a Democratic Whip meeting with President Obama in the Cannon Caucus Room. Below are the Speaker's opening remarks:
"Thank you very much, Mr. Whip. Yes, it was a great occasion for us to receive the President of the United States on this day when we will be making history with our vote and making progress for the American people.
"It is also, as Chris Van Hollen reminds us, the third anniversary of Democrats winning the House and Senate for the American people -- November 7, 2006. So it is appropriate that the New Direction that we promised them at the time and that we have worked on since then, will be manifested today in the passage of this important legislation.
"It is very humbling to stand here at a time when we can associate ourselves with the work of those who passed Social Security, those who passed Medicare, and now we will pass health care reform. It is also appropriate that as we were in there with the President, that in the chair on the floor presiding over the debate was John Dingell, the person who gaveled down Medicare. So the continuity of this, the dedication over a long period of time, gives us strength and makes us humble.
"When the President was speaking, I couldn't help but think of Senator Kennedy. Senator Kennedy called passing health care the great unfinished business of our country.' He also said it was about the character of our country that we do this. In the same letter that he said that to the President, as we listened to the inspirational remarks of the President, I was also reminded that in that same letter, Senator Kennedy said to the President: When I first came into public life, we had a young President who inspired a generation and inspired the world. As I leave,' Senator Kennedy said, I have hope because I know that we again have a young President who will inspire our country, a new generation and on behalf of our country, inspire the world.'
"Our President is indeed doing that. Without his leadership, we would not be in position to take the historic step we are doing. He has said to us: We will measure our success in the progress that is made by America's working families.' Today, we will make not only history, but progress for America's working families.
"With that, I am pleased to yield to our distinguished Majority Leader, who, without whose leadership we most certainly would not be in position to win today. His knowledge of these issues, his strategic thinking about how to get us from here to there, and just his persistence, and more important than all of that, the respect with which he is held in our Caucus for his opinion has gotten us where we are today. Mr. Steny Hoyer, Majority Leader of the Congress."