Last week, House Democrats elected a strong, diverse team that is prepared to advance the kind of legislative agenda that the American people voted for in the midterm elections.
I was thrilled to join in electing Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to that team. In January, Ms. Pelosi will become the first woman Speaker of the House in U.S. history. She brings enormous strength and character to the position. I have complete confidence in her leadership skills and her ability to unify House Democrats. I have no doubt she will successfully lead the Democratic-controlled House in bringing about a new direction of positive change in America.
Second in command of House Democrats and holding the title of Majority Leader is Maryland Representative Steny Hoyer. Steny won a hotly contested race for this position, besting my friend Congressman Jack Murtha who has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq war. I look forward to working with Steny to further our party’s agenda. Steny is a natural leader with strong ties to virtually every coalition in the Democratic caucus, from the conservative Blue Dogs to the progressives. He also is a patient listener, a hard worker and a consummate gentleman who is always willing to go the extra mile when a colleague needs him. Steny has been a champion for his Maryland district for many years and, as Minority Whip, has outmaneuvered Republicans on a number of occasions where conventional wisdom thought it impossible.
Ascending from Caucus Chairman to Majority Whip is Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. Jim will become only the second African American in history to hold the title of House Majority Whip. He is a well-liked and respected member of our caucus. A steady hand, Jim has led the Caucus for the past two years, showcasing a quiet strength that puts his colleagues at ease while advancing the business of the day. As whip, he will be in charge of counting the votes to ensure that legislation brought to the floor has enough support to pass. Jim has big shoes to fill considering the gravitas Steny Hoyer brought to the job, but I know he is more than up to the task.
Rounding out the Democratic leadership team are Rahm Emmanuel and John Larson. First known for his prowess in the Clinton Administration, Representative Emmanuel went on to win a seat in the House from Illinois and has quickly risen among the ranks. Last week, he was elected Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Known for his feistiness and readiness to mix it up with Republicans, Rahm will play a critical role in advancing the Democratic legislative agenda in the upcoming Congress.
Congressman John Larson of Connecticut, a good friend, is an affable colleague, someone members rely on for advice and counsel. Earning re-election to Caucus Vice-Chair, John will continue serving as right-hand man to the Caucus Chair as they work with the caucus and new committee chairmen to devise an agenda for the caucus that will govern our internal workings.
The House Democrats’ leadership team reflects both the diversity of our country and the strength of the American character. In these five members, every region of the country is represented, from the Mid-Atlantic to the Mid-West to the West Coast. They are strong leaders and dedicated public servants.
The voters have entrusted our party with majority status in the House, a trust that we intend to earn by working to return America to the country we all can be proud of.