- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

House Democrats unanimously picked Nancy Pelosi yesterday to be their leader and the first female speaker of the House in U.S. history.

“For our daughters and our granddaughters, today we have broken the marble ceiling,” Mrs. Pelosi told a cheering House chamber yesterday, moments after accepting the speaker’s gavel. “For our daughters and our granddaughters now, the sky is the limit.”

Democrats dedicated their votes to famous feminists, children everywhere and even world peace.

“In the name of Jesus,” Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. of Illinois said as he cast his vote for Mrs. Pelosi.

Rep. Jose E. Serrano of New York cast his vote for her in Spanish.

Even Rep. Gene Taylor, the conservative Democrat who had cast a protest vote against Mrs. Pelosi in past leadership elections, dutifully voted for her yesterday. With his vote, Mrs. Pelosi — whose voting record is considerably more liberal than many fellow Democrats — got her first unanimous leadership election

So, when Mr. Taylor cast his vote for her, Democrats jumped to their feet in thunderous applause, catching the fair-haired Mississippian a little off guard.

Rep. Maxine Waters of California cast her vote in honor of feminist icons Bella Abzug and Gloria Steinem.

Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, hailed Mrs. Pelosi — the daughter of former Baltimore Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro — as “Maryland’s favorite daughter, California’s pride.”

Wearing a burgundy suit, pearls and a broad grin, Mrs. Pelosi sat at her seat waving thanks to those who voted for her. Surrounding her were her young grandchildren in various stages of behavior during the two-hour affair. Sitting in the balcony with the rest of her family was crooner Tony Bennett, who was to serenade her at a celebration concert later in the evening.

After the 233-202 vote was tallied and announced, Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio said it was a “high privilege” to hand the gavel to the first female speaker in more than 200 years.

And though the federal government has expanded far beyond the hopes and expectations of the Founding Fathers, he said, they would view the selection “approvingly.”

“My fellow Americans, whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat or an independent, today is a cause for celebration,” Mr. Boehner said.

When Mrs. Pelosi assumed the gavel, she promised “partnership, not partisanship,” and paid tribute to the troops and former President Gerald R. Ford, who died the day after Christmas.

She also paid tribute to St. Francis of Assisi, the namesake of her hometown of San Francisco who robbed from his wealthy cloth-merchant father to give to the poor.

When Mrs. Pelosi called for a change of course in Iraq, there was jubilant applause from Democrats, while Republicans remained seated and virtually silent.

And she promised — much as Republicans did when they took power 12 years ago — to restore fiscal discipline.

“After years of historic deficits, this 110th Congress will commit itself to a higher standard: Pay as you go, no new deficit spending,” she said. “Our new America will provide unlimited opportunity for future generations, not burden them with mountains of debt.”

Hours later, her caucus unanimously approved a package of new rules that allows Democratic leaders to waive the requirement that three-fifths support be required to raise federal taxes.

“It didn’t take long for House Democrats to reveal their true intentions,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, Georgia Republican. “They’ve been in power for a matter of hours, and they immediately signal their plans to raise income taxes on American families. I hope Georgia voters will take a look at who voted against this effort to prevent tax increases.”

Sitting quietly at the back of the chamber was outgoing Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, who at one point was recognized for his service. He slowly rose, gave a wide wave and dug his hands deep into his pants pockets to wait for the hearty, bipartisan applause to die down.

During the ceremony, Mr. Boehner also lingered for a moment on the 12 years of Republican rule that ended yesterday.

“There were some great achievements during those 12 years that followed,” he said. “There were also some profound disappointments.”

Then he offered a brief but sober analysis of Republican failures that caused their downfall. Most Americans, he said, don’t care who controls Congress.

“What they want is a government that is limited, honest, accountable and responsive to their needs,” he said. “And the moment a majority forgets this lesson, it begins writing itself a ticket to minority status.”

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