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Public Statements

Printing of Proceedings of Former Members Program

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. PELOSI. Good morning, everyone. Thank you, Madam Chair, Madam Ambassador, Congresswoman, many titles, great leader.

Thank you all very much for being at the Capitol today and thank you for your ongoing work on behalf of our country. I am honored to be here as the minority leader in the presence of a great minority leader, Bob Michel. He knows this job with a President of your party and without a President of your party. Again he is, as you know, an icon in this House, and anytime he visits it's a cause for celebration for us. And to be able to do so, to honor Senator John Warner, welcome to the House side, Senator Warner. The respect that we have had for you over the years is only heightened by your ongoing leadership now that you are a former Senator, but the fact is your imprint on this Congress has been a great one, not only substantively but officially in a bipartisan way. You're a great leader. It's an honor to welcome you and to join our Speaker in welcoming you to the House side. Good morning, Senator. Please give my love to Jeanne.

And to Dennis Hertel and Connie Morella, thank you for your leadership. Listening to Congressman Slattery talk about the working groups and the rest, I am so impressed, because that you continue to do this work is very, very important. I just had the Ambassador from Japan in my office, and I could just substitute that name for almost any country, but Japan in particular right now at a time of duress for that country, the appeal was to heighten our interparliamentary relationships, whether with former Members, with staff, or with current Members as well.

JIM, thank you for the work that you're all doing with those working groups to encourage them. Former Members are a fount of so much wisdom for us, Senator and Mr. Leader, Madam Chair, Dennis, you understand the institution, you have time to reflect, I hope--I hope you have time to reflect--on some of the issues while you served here and as you see our service here.

We consider ourselves all colleagues to each other. Abraham Lincoln is our colleague. Anyone who ever served in this House, I believe, is our colleague. Daniel Webster, Abraham Lincoln, we're part of a very proud tradition in the people's House.

I just want to tell you this anecdotally. All of the Speakers, former and present, have been invited to participate in the 200th anniversary, the bicentennial of the election of Henry Clay as Speaker of the House. This will take place in Lexington, Kentucky, pretty soon. So, of course, we're all reading up on Henry Clay to enhance our knowledge of what was going on at the time. It was pretty raucous at the time. He was elected the Speaker the first day he arrived, 34 years old, the youngest Speaker ever, but he was part a of an insurgent group of many, many freshmen who decided that they were going to take over the House, and his imprint here was a great one.

In studying and in looking at his service over the years back and forth, Senator Warner, he started in the Senate and he decided that not much was getting done over there, so he decided to run for the House. And then eventually he went back to the Senate. It's very interesting to see, because as people, shall we say, comment on our combativeness or our enthusiasm for ideas as we compete in this great marketplace of ideas called the House of Representatives what the heritage and what the background is of that expression of difference of opinion. The gentlemen that we have here, Leader Michel and Senator Warner, are examples of the civility we hope will be the hallmark that guides again our enthusiasm for the ideas that we bring to the Congress.

Thank you for your ongoing leadership. Thank you for being an intellectual resource to the Congress in a bipartisan way. I think I served with almost all of you, maybe not every single one but almost all of you, so I have a great appreciation for the contributions that you have made. Again, the imprint, the legacy that you have left. I know you're very proud. I want you to know that we are as well.

You have come at a very interesting time. The issues of budget and budget priorities and the values debate that goes with that is something that is not new to all of you. The challenges that we face in the world, our national security is everything. We take that oath to protect and defend our national security. I know I don't have to say that to Bev Byron, her great leadership on the Armed Services Committee. But also at a time where you have real-time communication, it's so different. When Henry Clay was the Speaker of the House, a message could only travel as fast as a horse could gallop or a ship could sail. Imagine. And today in real time. In fact it's even before real time. Before you

even get out of the room, it's been BlackBerry'd outside of the room, so the message is always ahead of you. Imagine the difference that that makes, in the participation of the public, in their reaction to events without any explanation or context in which they have taken place but the fact that they are taking place.

Again, you've seen this all happen. Some of it happened when many of you were here. Every day a new technology enhances our communication. We see that as a plus. We see how it promoted democracy in the Middle East. We hope for the best coming out of all of that, hopefully that it will be democracy, but the change that sprang from it.

So in terms of how we represent, I say to the Members, you're all independent. Your job description and your title are one and the same: Representative. Representative. Sometimes it requires leadership to give a national perspective to some of the decisions that you have to make that might be not clear at home at the time, and again especially with real-time communication, you have to be ahead of all of that. That's called leadership.

Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for continuing your work together in a bipartisan way. Thank you again for being an intellectual resource. Thank you for the work that you do internationally because, of course, again, back to national security, our first responsibility, to keep the American people safe and have our children grow up in a world where they can all reach their potential and their fulfillment because the world is at peace.

I bring greetings from the Democrats in the House, but I hope I could say that we all join together, Democrats and Republicans, in saying thank you to all of you.


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