House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ First Congress Speech

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Madam clerk.Whip Clark. Distinguished members of. The House Democratic Caucus and the House Republican. Conference, it's my high honor and distinct privilege to finally be able to welcome all of you.

To the 118th Congress. Let me just begin by thanking my good friend Pete Aguilar for. Is very. Generous words of introduction and for placing. My name into nomination.

A total of nine times. And I also want to thank my other colleagues from the Democratic caucus. For your generous words of nomination as well, Jim Clyburn, Catherine. Clark, Ted. Lou. Dean Phillips, Jonah Goose and Veronica Escobar.

I also want to thank. My colleagues. My friends. In the House Democratic caucus. For your perseverance, for your strength. For your friendship.

For your unanimity of purpose and for your unanimous support. And I simply want to say that that's showing of strength. It's not for anyone particular individual. It will be a showing of strength. Throughout the 118th Congress, unanimity of purpose on behalf of the American people.

Before I proceed any further, let me begin. By acknowledging. The distinguished gentle lady. From the great state of California. The iconic the heroic, the legendary speaker Amerita, Nancy, de Lassandro, Pelosi.

And without question, in my mind, Speaker America Pelosi will go down in history as the greatest speaker of all time. Throughout her time. Throughout her time. In Congress, she's been a legendary legislator. A fabulous facilitator.

And a no nonsense negotiator. We know that, Nancy Pelosi. Is a woman of faith. A loving wife, a mother. Of five, a grandmother. Of nine, a defender of democracy, a voice for the voiceless, and a powerful champion for the children, the climate, Charm City, California, the caucus, the Congress, the country and the Constitution. Thank you, Madam Speaker, for all that you have done. It's an honor to stand on your broad shoulders.

As well. As well as the shoulders. Of the Great Steny Hoyer and the Great Jim Clyburn, 2 consequential leaders in their own right. Now the scripture says in Galatians, let us not become weary. And doing good.

For at the proper time. We will reap a harvest. If we do not give up. Over the last two years. House Democrats and partnership.

With President Biden and our colleagues in the Senate. Have been hard at work. On behalf of the American people getting big things. Done. We passed the American rescue plan.

Save the economy from a deep recession. Put shots and arms, money in pockets and kids. Back in school, we passed the infrastructure investment and JOBS Act. To create millions of good paying jobs, fix our crumbling bridges, roads, tunnels, our airports, a sewer and water system or mass transportation systems and ensure high speed Internet access in every single community. We passed gun safety legislation for the first time in 30 years that will save lives and make our communities safer. We passed the Chipton Science Act.

To bring domestic manufacturing jobs back home to the United States of America and ensure that our workforce has the skills to succeed in the 21st century economy. And we passed the Inflation Reduction Act to strike the dramatic blow against the climate crisis. Set our planet on a sustainable trajectory forward lower energy costs, strengthen the Affordable Care Act, lower healthcare costs, and drive down the high price of life saving prescription drugs for millions of Americans. It was one of the most consequential congresses in American history. President Biden gets the job done, and the D in Democrat stands for deliver. So over the next two years. Over the neck. Over the next two years.

As we begin. This 118th. The Congress. Let us continue to fight. For a lower cost, let us continue to fight in this Congress.

For better paying jobs, let us continue to fight in this Congress. For safer communities. Let us continue to fight in this Congress to defend democracy. Let us continue to fight in this Congress to put and protect the public interest. Let us continue to fight in this Congress for economic opportunity in every single ZIP code. And let us continue to fight in this Congress for reproductive freedom. Because. As Democrats, we do believe in a country for everyone. We do believe in a country for everyone. A country.

That provides for the poor, works for working families, makes sense for the middle class, stands up for senior citizens, innovates in the inner city, strengthen suburban communities, helps out the heartland, and revitalizes rural America. We believe in a country. With liberty and justice. For all equal protection under the law, free and fair elections, and, yes, we believe in a country with the peaceful transfer of power. We believe.

That in America. Our diversity is a strength. It is not a weakness. And economic strength, the competitive strength, the cultural strength, our diversity. Is a strength that is not a weakness. We are a gorgeous mosaic.

Of people from. Throughout the world. As John Lewis. Would sometimes remind us on this floor. We may have come over on different ships.

But we're all in the same boat now. We are white. We are black. We are Latino. We are Asian. We are Native American. We are Christian. We are Jewish. We are Muslim. We are Hindu. We are religious. We are secular. We are gay. We are straight. We are young. We are older. We are women. We are men. We are citizens. We are dreamers. Out of many, we are one. That's what makes America a great country. And no matter what. Kind of. Haters are trying to divide us. We're not gonna let anyone take that away from us. Not now. Not ever. This is the United States.

Of America. A land of. Opportunity. The fact that I'm able to stand up here today. Is another data point.

In that narrative. I was born in. Brooklyn Hospital raised. In a working class. Neighborhood and.

Crown Heights grew up in the cornerstone. Baptist Church. Started off in the Cradle Roll department somehow. Survived the violence of the crack cocaine epidemic and wound up here in the United States Congress as the highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives. America. Truly a land. Of opportunity, government of the people, by the people and for the people. So on this first day.

Let us commit. To the American Dream, a dream that promises. That if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to provide a comfortable living. For yourself and for your family, educate. Your children purchase a home and one day retire with grace and dignity. Let us commit on this first day to lift up the American dream for every single person in this nation.

Now. I recognize that this is a moment of transition. As we transition from 1 Congress to the next. From one majority. To the next from a year of from a year of accomplishment.

A year of accomplishment to a year of ambiguity. A moment. Of transition. The American people. Understandably after the events of.

This week, recognize that the Congress is at a fork in. The road. And are asking the question what direction? Will we choose? On this.

First day, I do not pretend to answer that question. On behalf of my colleagues on the other side. Of the aisle. But we do extend our hand of partnership. To you.

And want to make clear that we extend. And in 10. To try to find common ground whenever and wherever possible on behalf of the American people. Not as Democrats, not as Republicans, not as independents, but as Americans. But I also want to make clear that.

We will never. Compromise our principles. House Democrats. Will always put American values over autocracy. But never volence over bigotry, the constitution over the cult.

Democracy over demagogues. Economic opportunity over extremism. Freedom over fascism, governing over gaslighting. Hopefulness over hatred. Inclusion over isolation. Justice over judicial overreach. Knowledge over kangaroo courts. Liberty over limitation, maturity over Mara Lago. Normalcy over negativity. Opportunity over obstruction. People over politics. Quality of life issues over Q Anon. Reason over racism. Substance over slander. Triumph over tyranny, understanding over ugliness, voting rights over voter suppression, working families over the well connected, xenial over xenophobia, yes we can over you can't do it, and zealous representation. Over 0 sum confrontation we will always. Do the right thing by the American people. So let us not grow weary of doing good, for the American people will reap the benefit of the harvest if we do not give up. God bless you, God bless the house, and God bless the United States of America.

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