Good morning. This is Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the Majority Leader-Elect in the United States House of Representatives.
Ten days ago, my colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus made history by unanimously nominating the first woman - Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California - to serve as the Speaker in the 110th Congress, which convenes in January. Speaker-elect Pelosi is a woman of deep faith, keen intellect and great political ability.
On the same day, House Democrats also elected Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina to serve as Majority Whip. Jim is the highest-ranking African-American in Congressional leadership. In addition, we elected Congressman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois to serve as Chairman of our Caucus, and John Larson of Connecticut to serve as Vice-Chair of the Caucus.
This new Democratic leadership team reflects America - the diversity that is our strength, and the values, principles and aspirations that animate our nation's soul.
On November 7th, millions of Americans, in every region of our country, voted their hopes - not their fears. And, they sent a resounding message: They want change and a new direction for our nation.
Today, as Democrats prepare to lead majorities in the House and Senate, we humbly offer three pledges to you:
First, we will - and we must - change the way things are done in Washington.
We will restore civility and integrity to our legislative process, and transparency and accountability to our government. We will reach across the aisle and seek bipartisan consensus whenever possible. And, we will pass legislation that ensures ethics and lobbying reform.
Second, we will work with the President and our Republican colleagues in Congress to forge a new direction in Iraq - because, clearly, the current strategy is not working.
Sectarian violence continues to rage. Our brave servicemen and women continue to be maimed and killed. And, the war is not making our nation safer or more secure.
In the days ahead, the Iraqis must make the tough decisions and accept responsibility for their future. And, the Iraqis must know: Our commitment, while great, is not unending.
Finally, Democrats pledge to address the concerns and issues that affect the lives of working families.
We will implement the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission - because our highest duty is to protect the American people.
We will raise the federal minimum wage - because, in America, if you work hard and play by the rules, you should not live in poverty.
We will make higher education more affordable - because an educated workforce is the key to our long-term success and security.
We will allow the government to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare patients; rollback taxpayer subsidies for the oil industry, and fight to free America from its dependence on foreign oil; and work to strengthen and guarantee Social Security.
Furthermore, we will restore fiscal discipline - because it is immoral for this generation of Americans to force our children and grandchildren to pay our bills.
This we will do, and much more - not because we believe in the infinite wisdom of government, but because we believe in the innate goodness of our people and the promise of a brighter future in the land that we all love.
More than 40 years ago, our 35th President - John F. Kennedy - perhaps said it best: 'Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.'
Democrats in the United States Congress embrace our responsibility. And, we are absolutely committed to fulfilling the trust the American people have placed in us to lead, to govern effectively, and to make the greatest nation on earth even greater.
Thank you for listening. May God bless you and your families on this Thanksgiving weekend, and may God continue to bless America. This is Congressman Steny Hoyer.