Friday, January 4, 2013

Welcome to the 113th Congress (House)

Yesterday the United States House of Representatives elected John Boehner of Ohio to be Speaker of the House.  Speeches from Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner followed.

 The committee will retire from the Chamber to escort the Speaker-elect to the chair.
   The Sergeant at Arms announced the Speaker-elect of the House of Representatives of the 113th Congress, who was escorted to the chair by the Committee of Escort.

   Ms. PELOSI. To my fellow Members of the House of Representatives, it is a high honor to welcome you to the 113th Congress.
   To our newest Members of Congress, it is a special privilege and honor to welcome you and your families and extend congratulations to the newest Members of Congress. Welcome.
   To reach this day, each of us has been strengthened by our faith and our families. With a full and grateful heart, I want to thank my family: my husband of 49 years, Paul Pelosi; our children, Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul, and Alexandra; and our grandchildren who are represented here today by our granddaughter, Madeleine. And I have to include the D'Alesandro family of Baltimore in that gratitude, as well.
   I must thank my constituents in San Francisco for giving me the privilege of representing that beautiful and diverse city in the Congress of the United States.
   Each of us here today is truly a representative, a representative in the truest sense of the word: to represent the highest hopes and aspirations of the American people.
   On New Year's Eve, some of you, a large number of Members of Congress, joined hundreds of people at the National Archives building where we observed, at midnight, the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
   At midnight, there was an enactment of Harriet Tubman ringing the bell. And as she rang the bell, she said, ``Now we are free.'' It was quite an incredible moment, and it was one that ushered in what President Lincoln would call a ``new birth of freedom'' for his era and for generations to come.
   That transformative moment in our history is a reminder of the best traditions we have as a people: the ability and obligation of each generation of Americans to renew the promise of our Founders and to carry forward the torch of progress to reignite the American Dream.
   This is who we are as Americans. This is the character of our country. This is the strength of our democracy. The strength of our democracy rests in a strong and thriving middle class, the backbone of our democracy that middle class is, so we have a moral imperative to invest in good-paying jobs here at home and in the prosperity of our people as we build our infrastructure and we reduce the deficit.
   We must ensure that innovation rests at the heart of our success, that we remain first in science, technology, engineering and energy, and that we educate and prepare our young people for the opportunities of tomorrow. And when we make it in America, all of America's families can make it in America.
   The strength of our democracy also demands that we restore the confidence of the American people in our political process. We must empower the voters, and we must remove obstacles of participation in our democracy for all Americans. We must increase the level of civility and reduce the role of money in our elections. When we do, we will elect more women, more minorities, and more young people to public office. And that's a good thing.
   The American people are what make our country great. By and large, the United States is a Nation of immigrants, built, enriched, and strengthened by men, women, and children who share our patriotism and seek the American Dream. The strength of our democracy will be advanced by bold actions for comprehensive immigration reform.
   Today, we take an oath to protect and defend our Constitution, our people, and our freedom. To protect and defend, that is our first responsibility. And our democracy requires that we each uphold the duty of keeping Americans safe in their homes, in their schools, and in their neighborhoods.
   As we mourn the families of Newtown, we know that ensuring the safety of all Americans will be a truly meaningful tribute to the children and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School. For the strength of our democracy and for the sake of our children, let us work together to protect and defend all of our people.
   In the same year that President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the Statue of Freedom was unveiled atop the Capitol Dome. And that dome continues to be a beacon of freedom to the world and a source of inspiration for all who have had the honor to serve in Congress.
   As we take our oath of office today, let us renew the promise of freedom. Let us work in friendship and partnership to live up to the legacy of our Founders and the aspirations of our constituents. Let us renew the strength of our democracy by reigniting the American Dream.
   As we celebrate this moment, let us honor and thank those Americans who protect our democracy and secure our
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freedom: our veterans, our men and women in uniform and their families wherever they go. God bless them. God bless America. Thank you all.
   Now the House will continue to be led by a proud son of Ohio, a man of conviction and a public servant of resolve. Speaker Boehner is a leader who has earned the confidence of his conference and the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
   He is a man of faith: faith in God, faith in our country, and faith in his family. And as we congratulate him, we also congratulate and thank his wife, Debbie, and their two daughters, Lindsay and Trisha, and the entire Boehner family.
   Speaker Boehner, I know all too well that we will not always agree, but I hope with all my heart that we will find common ground that is a higher, better place for our country.
[Time: 14:00]
   Surely we can be touched by the better angels of our nature. Surely we can be touched by the better angels of our nature. So beautifully expressed by President Lincoln.
   This is the people's House; this is the people's gavel. It represents a sacred trust. May we all fulfill that trust and make real the ideals of democratic government.
   With respect for our Constitution, with faith in the American people, with hope for the future of our country, I present the people's gavel to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner.
   May God bless you.
   May God bless you, Speaker Boehner. May God bless this Congress. May God always bless the United States of America.
   My colleagues, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner.

   Mr. BOEHNER. Leader Pelosi, thank you for your kind words.
   Members of the House, the Senate, my wife Debbie, who is with us today--thankfully the girls are working--and all of you and our fellow countrymen, we meet again at democracy's great port of call.
   Every 2 years, at this hour, the Constitution brings a new order to this House, and it's an interlude for reflection, a glimpse of old truths. To our new Members and their families, let me just say ``welcome.''
   I know you're feeling a bit awestruck at this moment. History runs through this building. Now you're among a select few to share in this privilege. For those of you who are returning, who've walked these aisles before, maybe it's time we get a little awestruck again.
   The way our Founders envisioned it, the Republic would be led by citizens who recognize the blessings that we receive by governing ourselves, and it requires that we give something of ourselves. Everything depended on this. So they made each other and their successors swear an oath of allegiance.
   In a few moments, I'll take this oath for the 12th time as the representative from the Eighth District of Ohio. It is word for word the same oath that we all take. Note that it makes no mention of party or faction or title. It contains no reference to agendas or to platforms, only to the Constitution. The one addition we dare make, as George Washington did at the very first inaugural, is to invoke the assistance of our Heavenly Father.
   This covenant makes us servants of posterity. It calls us to refuse the pull of passing interest and follow the fixed star of a more perfect union. Put simply, we're sent here not to be something, but to do something. Or as I like to call it, ``doing the right thing.''
   It's a big job, and it comes with big challenges. Our government has built up too much debt. Our economy is not producing enough jobs. And these are not separate problems. At $16 trillion and rising, our national debt is draining free enterprise and weakening the ship of state. The American Dream is in peril so long as its namesake is weighed down by this anchor of debt. Break its hold, and we begin to set our economy free, jobs will come home, and confidence will come back. We do this not just to boost GDP or reduce unemployment, but to secure for our children a future of freedom and opportunity, and, frankly, nothing is more important.
   As Washington wrote in his farewell address, ``We should not throw upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.'' Well, that burden is ours, and so is the opportunity.
   There's no substitute for the wisdom of the people. We here are their servants. As Speaker, I pledge to listen and to do all I can to help all of you carry out your oath of office that we're all about to take. Because in our hearts we know it's wrong to pass this debt on to our kids and our grandkids. Now, we have to be willing, truly willing to make this problem right.
   Public service was never meant to be an easy living. Extraordinary challenges demand extraordinary leadership. So if you've come here to see your name in the lights or to pass off a political victory as some accomplishment, you've come to the wrong place. The door is right behind you. If you come here humbled by the opportunity to serve, if you've come here to be the determined voice of the people, if you've come here to carry the standard of leadership demanded not by our constituents but by the times, then you've come to the right place.
   There is a time for every purpose under Heaven. For the 113th Congress, it is a time to rise. When the day is over and the verdict is read, maybe it's said that we well and faithfully did our duty to ensure that freedom will endure and prevail, so help us God.
   I am now ready to take the oath of office.
   I ask the Dean of the House of Representatives, the Honorable John D. Dingell of Michigan, to administer the oath of office.

   Mr. Dingell then administered the oath of office to Mr. Boehner of Ohio, as follows:
   Do you solemnly swear or affirm that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that you will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter, so help you God.

   (Applause, the Members rising.)

   Mr. DINGELL. Congratulations, Mr. Speaker.


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