WASHINGTON – House Democrats, jubilant in their new status as the majority party, proclaimed their pride Thursday during the vote for Nancy Pelosi to be the first woman speaker of the House.
Each representative is required to yell out their choice for speaker during the roll call vote in the chamber. In doing so, several Democrats chose to shower Pelosi, D-Calif., with flattery and praise.
Newly-installed House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., whose hot-and-cold relationship with Pelosi is well-documented, sat to Pelosi's right, behind the speaker's table in the middle of the chamber. He jumped up to cry out his choice for the Baltimore native, saying, "Maryland's favorite daughter, Nancy D'Alesandro Pelosi, California's pride."
Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who is one month and five days older than the speaker, said he's "forever proud to vote for the young lady from California."
California Rep. Lynn Woolsey said Pelosi will be good for "world peace."
During the hour long roll call vote, Pelosi's family beamed on from the House chamber's gallery. Among her guests were one son, three daughters, their spouses, her husband, brother and sister-in-law, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and assorted friends. Also in attendance were Pelosi's celebrity guests, Richard Gere, Carole King and Tony Bennett.
Pelosi's grandchildren also attended the session, along with about 110 other kids in attendance to witness the opening day scene with their parents and grandparents. Pelosi's grandchildren were ushered in and out of the chamber by a nanny in a cherry red silk suit.
Less festive were Republicans who assumed minority status in the House for the first time in 12 years. They appeared deflated as they cast their votes for speaker, knowing full well that their leader, Rep. John Boeher of Ohio, was not going to muster enough support in the 233-202 Congress.
Many Republicans remained seated when their names were called and responded flatly "John Boehner," or more commonly "Boehner."
The most exciting Boehner vote came from the GOP leader himself. When the clerk called his name for a vote, he paused and replied "Boehner." The House chamber erupted with laughter to which he turned and asked "Who else?"
But Thursday's events were about electing the first woman speaker, and many Democrats compared Pelosi to pioneering women like Harriet Tubman, Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinham and Rosa Parks, among others.
California's Sanchez sisters, Linda and Loretta, who both represent the Los Angeles area, cried "empowerment to all women." Another congresswoman yelled out "Women can do anything!"
Pelosi's maternal side was on full display as her passel of well-dressed grandkids sat on her lap, climbed over Hoyer and Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, whose three kids were also in tow.
As the clerk of the House announced that official vote tally, the chamber erupted in applause and a standing ovation. Pelosi pulled her grandkids and Emanuel's in for a picture.
After making her acceptance speech, Pelosi invited all the children to come up to the dais to touch the speaker's gavel. But when they started toying with other items on the table, Pelosi pleaded: "No, no, don't touch that."