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Transcript of Pelosi Remarks at Portrait Unveiling Ceremony

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke at her portrait unveiling ceremony in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you all.  It is amazing to think that John Boehner and I had the same artist to paint our pictures.  Right, John? 

Good afternoon, everyone.  I’m overjoyed to be here with each and every one of you.  I’m overjoyed to be with my family: Paul, Paul Jr., Nancy Corinne, Alexandra, Liam.  The Pelosis.  And also the D’Alesandros here from Baltimore.  Thank you for being here.  Thank you to my dear husband Paul, my loving partner of life, my constant, constant pillar of support.  Thank you, Paul, and thank you for unveiling the portrait.


I’m also touched by so many of my dedicated staff who are here.  As I said on the Floor of the House, the best staff ever in the history of our country.


And for my remarkable colleagues, everything that was said here about what we accomplished would not have been possible without the courage of our colleagues.  The dedication, the values, the courage of our colleagues.  And I thank you for all the successes you made possible.  

This program was wonderful to me.  It was like seeing the story of my political life unravel – revealed in front of me, not in terms of believing all of the accolades, but in identifying with the persons who were presenting.  Again, Chair Zoe Lofgren leading our California delegation, Chair of the House Administration Committee.  Thank you, Zoe, for being a powerful voice for diversity and voting rights and for Democracy itself in the Congress.  

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, like a sister to me.  I served with her father, Eddie Roybal, as did Steny.  We served with Eddie.  He came to Congress on a path that he blazed working with the farmworkers that he helped organized, and I particularly like that because the farmworkers helped organize my first campaign under the leadership of Fred Ross, who left us recently.  Lucille, in your own right, you made your mark in Congress: the godmother of the DREAM Act and one who taught us every day that newcomers to America were the constant reinvigoration of America.  Thank you, Lucille.

I’m grateful to Denyce Graves.  Wasn’t she wonderful?  Isn’t she wonderful?  


As I’m sitting there hearing her sing, I’m thinking back to – my first swearing-in as a leader was as Whip a long time ago, 2002.  Denyce Graves sang that day as well, and so here she is again.  Thank you so much.  So beautiful.  You have taught us in a moving way what America is to me.  My favorite verse:

The children in the playground

The faces that I see

All races and religions

That’s America to me.  

Thank you, Denyce Graves.  

Leader Schumer.  Leader Schumer.  George Miller told me the same thing about you.  


But he had it in a different House.  And don’t we miss him.  I am honored that you are here as Leader of the Senate and to welcome you back to the House where we got you ready for all of that leadership.  

Today, today, before we came in here, we had a ceremony on the Floor to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy.  I want to recognize you today for the work that you did in the House.  He was our leader in passing the Brady Bill in the House of Representatives.  We would not have been able to – I was like a munchkin, you know – ‘Go do this, go do that’ – when Chuck Schumer was in charge, and he really, really taught us how to lead and how to win.  

And in addition to that, bicameral partnership in the American Rescue Package, Infrastructure Bill, PACT Act for our veterans – and thank you, Mr. Secretary McDonough, for being with us – the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and just yesterday signed by the President: the Respect for Marriage Act.  Thank you so much for your leadership.  


Chuck Schumer made so much – was responsible for so much of that to happen.  We trained him well in the House.  


Elena Hung is the personification of outside mobilization.  I say it all the time, our inside maneuvering can just take us so far.  Unless the outside weighs in, we cannot have our best product.  Her little girl Xiomara had her challenges.  She said, ‘I’m going to give voice to this.’  They started Little Lobbyists and made so much difference in protecting the Affordable Care Act.  Thank you, Elena, for joining us today.  And thank you, Xiomara.


How about John Boehner?  Wasn’t that something?  I’m telling you, I would have been a little disappointed if he did not get emotional.


He said so well, and I totally agree, we had our disagreements along the way, but we did not – we were not disagreeable to each other.  We tried very hard to bring people together – many different issues that were our challenges at the time.  My biggest challenge, which I failed in, was to get him to stop smoking. 


And he’s still there, right?  So thank you for honoring us with your presence today.  It means a great deal to me.  I was – he gave me the gavel.  I gave him the gavel.  I was present at his unveiling, and he is here today.  And more important that that, Debbie is here today.  Paul and I love that you are here, Debbie.  Thank you so much.

And President Obama: what an honor.  What a total honor for me that he sent this message today.  He taught us about the audacity to hope, hope that makes a difference in America.  I saw first-hand his inspirational leadership, knowing every detail and every possibility to expand quality, affordable health care.  It simply would not have happened without him.  That goes without saying, almost. 

I also saw him first-hand, up-close, rally the world at COP15 in Copenhagen, early on making a big difference.  And you know, Madam Secretary of the Interior, what a difference he made from outside the Congress, but now with that full appreciation.  And he then took that on to the Paris COP and made a tremendous difference that we are advancing now.  So today, he and Michelle continue to lift up the next generation of leaders: investing in the future, giving them hope and confidence to make a difference.  He was always about the future, when he had the courage to run, as he served and led and now investing in the future.  Thank you, President Obama, for that beautiful, beautiful statement. 


In a moment, you will hear from Father Privett, my dear friend.  As you know, my public service is based on my faith, springs from my faith.  I’ll never forget the prayer that Father Privett delivered on the Floor during my swearing-in as Speaker in 2007, and it is so special that you are with us today.  Thank you, Father Privett, for that.  

When I came to Congress all those years ago, George Miller introduced me to his friends.  My slogan, at the time, for the campaign was ‘a voice that will be heard.’  ‘A voice that will be heard.’  That was the slogan.  And little did I know that it would be one culminating in my being the Speaker of the House of Representatives.  I never thought that.  And I am honored to play this role in forging what we consider historic progress for our nation.  Again, it would not happen without the courage, values and knowledge and inspiration of our colleagues.  I thank all of you for being here today.  

We are going to have some time to get together when we leave here.  But in the meantime, I just want to share some other thoughts with you.  We are in Statuary Hall.  And everyone who knows – every time I speak in Statuary Hall, I call to people’s attention the goddess of history, the muse of history, Clio.  Clio records all that she observes.  And I keep saying to the Members, Clio is writing down in the book.  Mr. Leader, Kevin, you have heard this so many times here.  And my colleagues: I’m confident that she will look favorably upon our achievements.  

We’ve also sought common ground where we could.  We have that responsibility: bipartisanship, transparency, accountability, where we can.  As Lincoln taught us, we must always seek to ‘swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely we will be, by the better angels of our nature.’  Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for mentioning Ron Sherr, the artist.  I want to join you in extending sympathy to his family.  Imagine that, one week ago, he left one week before this.  He had a gift of capturing the intricate details of the House Chamber and breathing life into an historic moment.  

Again, as was mentioned, this painting will stand out as a woman in that Speaker’s Lobby.  I’m really honored.  My Members had the courage to elect a woman Speaker.  That is not without courage.


And as the Leader mentioned, somewhere out there, there’s someone who will be – somewhere in this Congress is a woman – future woman Speaker-to-be.  I’m honored to be the first, but it will only be a good accomplishment if I’m not the last.  Again, with so much – so many values, so much commitment for the common good, I know that will be sooner rather than later.  

In the coming Congress, as I had mentioned, I look forward to continuing my public service in the Congress where I began 35 years ago: a voice that will be heard for San Francisco.  No matter what titles my colleagues may have given me, my highest official honor will always be to speak for the people of San Francisco.  I thank all of you for being here to celebrate the story of my Congressional career.  But as demonstrated by those who shared some thoughts with us, it’s our political career.  It’s what we have done working together – inside the Congress and, again, with the outside mobilization, so necessary to get the job done.

To my colleagues: thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I can never thank you enough.  I thank you for your support, but more importantly for your patriotism and what you are all doing, on both sides of the aisle, for our country.  And I think that every one of you is a blessing to our country.  And may God continue to bless America. 

Thank you all so much for being here today.


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