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Pelosi Elected 1st Female House Speaker

Published: January 4, 2007

 

Filed at 2:16 p.m. ET

 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's a glass ceiling no one else has even cracked, and Nancy Pelosi crashed through it Thursday, elected the nation's first-ever female House speaker.

 

The 66-year-old San Francisco Democrat beamed and clapped as she heard the voice vote electing her. She was surrounded on the House floor by her six grandchildren, including Paul Michael Vos, born to her daughter Alexandra in early November.

 

Upon arrival, Pelosi was met by prolonged cheers from fellow House members and the packed visitors' galleries, where onlookers included actor Richard Gere and singer Tony Bennett, crooner of ''I Left My Heart in San Francisco.''

 

''This is an historic moment -- for the Congress, and for the women of this country. It is a moment for which we have waited more than 200 years,'' Pelosi planned to say in prepared remarks. ''Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights.''

 

''For our daughters and granddaughters, today we have broken the marble ceiling,'' she said.

 

Pelosi began her history-making day running into anti-abortion demonstrators as she went to a prayer service with her husband, Paul, and a daughter at St. Peter's Catholic Church near the Capitol.

 

''You can't be Catholic and pro-abortion,'' read one placard. Pelosi and her entourage walked past the small group of protesters without saying anything.

 

Attending the service with her were Republican leaders that her party put into the minority in the November election: new Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri.

 

Also there were new House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, a one-time Pelosi rival elected by House Democrats to be her No. 2 over her protests, and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean.

 

She also attended a ceremonial swearing-in of the Congressional Black Caucus, where the incoming leader of the 42-member group, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., made clear that they intended to have a voice in the new Congress. ''She must deliver because black people delivered that we might have this majority,'' Kilpatrick said of Pelosi.

 

The House convened at midday with Democrats rejoicing over taking control of Congress after 12 years in the minority.

 

But the spotlight belonged to Pelosi, and she was making the most of it with a whirlwind of festivities from the lavish to the sentimental. The week was her coming-out to the nation, and she was aiming to introduce herself not just as the San Francisco liberal decried by Republicans, but also as an Italian-American Catholic, mother of five and native of gritty Baltimore, where her father was mayor.

 

''We look forward to the rest of the country appreciating the real San Francisco values, of diversity and a city of dreamers, '' San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said after attending a brunch in her honor. ''You can only exploit the gay community so much ... They're going to see there's so much more to San Francisco.''

 

Throughout, the symbolism of Pelosi's triumph for women was center stage.

 

Outside a brunch Thursday at the Library of Congress, leaders from the National Organization for Women greeted her with a giant congratulation card. The message: Way to Go!

 

''This is a historic moment for women everywhere,'' said NOW President Kim Gandy.

 

Thursday evening, Pelosi was being feted at a $1,000-a-head concert hosted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at the National Building Museum with performances expected from Carole King, Bennett, Wyclef Jean and others.

 

Pelosi attended Mass Wednesday at Trinity University, where she's an alumnus, and dined that night at the Italian embassy.

 

Friday begins with an open house event across from the Capitol. Then she heads to Baltimore, where the street where she grew up in Little Italy is being dedicated in her honor: Nancy D'Alesandro Pelosi Via.

 

Pelosi was raised there, the daughter of New Deal Maryland congressman Thomas D'Alesandro, who later became the city's mayor. She didn't run for the House herself until 1987 after marrying wealthy businessman Paul Pelosi, moving to San Francisco and raising her children.

 

In Congress Pelosi displayed the tough politicking of her childhood environment. She wrung loyalties, counted votes and muscled aside Hoyer to become Democrats' second-in-command, and then Democratic leader in 2002.

 

Personal loyalty is key to Pelosi. She tried to block Hoyer's bid in November to become Democratic majority leader, suffering an embarrassing defeat when her preferred candidate, Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha, lost badly.

 

Pelosi wins re-election by huge margins and stays true to her San Francisco constituency, voting against the Iraq war resolution and co-sponsoring legislation to end federal prohibitions against medical marijuana. Her liberalism makes some moderate Democrats leery, and she's avoided campaigning in some conservative districts

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Admitted. But most Californians are NOT Bay Area Democrats. San Francisco voted in Pelosi all by itself. Yes, California as a whole is left of center, but I don't imagine Pelosi could have won any other district in the state.

 

I'm sure there are plenty of progressives and moderate socialists on this site who will find her to their liking. But for myself,

 

puke:

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She's already exempted large corporations based in her district from the minimum wage bills, proving herself to be a hypocrite. I hope someone can show me something I can expect from her to be good.

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I guarantee she will not run for president. no chance of winning, and she will never lose her reelection bid so she can stay speaker as long as dems controll the house.

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She's already exempted large corporations based in her district from the minimum wage bills, proving herself to be a hypocrite. I hope someone can show me something I can expect from her to be good.

 

 

Actually, when it was brought up, she specifically asked the committee to make sure that all corporations that operate in the US and US territories (the corporation in question -- Starkist Tuna, I believe, a subsidary of Heinz -- has a plant in American Samoa) were not exempt from the minimum wage bill.

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no the tuna company was exempt that is where all the controversy comes in. American Samoa was the only territory not subject to the bill.

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Read the fine print

Frank keeps order

 

Frank keeps order

 

The 110th Congress and unrelenting political hardball are both back in session, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has learned.

 

Minority Republicans were on the losing end of every vote at the hands of the new Democratic majority last week but that hardly stopped them from trying to embarrass the new speaker over an obscure provision of the minimum wage increase bill that Democrats pushed through.

 

Democrats, led by Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller of Martinez, made a great show of the fact that their bill raised the minimum wage for workers in the Northern Marianas, a territory where now-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff had successfully worked for years to keep out such laws.

Barton presses the case

 

Barton presses the case

 

Imagine Republicans' delight when some of their eagle-eyed aides discovered the Democrats' bill covered all U.S. territories in raising the minimum wage to $7.25 except American Samoa.

 

Why American Samoa? Because the territory's Democratic non-voting delegate, Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, worked for an exemption. He apparently said that his Pacific territory's economy, based almost solely on a tuna fishing industry that faces stiff foreign competition, would be wiped out if it had to pay higher wages.

 

Republican opponents of the higher minimum wage pointed out that lots of U.S. employers faced with paying low-wage workers more make the same complaint. Democrats said that because of protection from Abramoff and his allies, the Northern Marianas had become notorious for garment industry sweat shop conditions.

 

But further, the GOP found, Falomavaega is a big recipient of tuna industry donations, and one of the biggest operators in Samoa is Star-Kist, a label owned by Del Monte. And where is Del Monte based? In San Francisco, in Pelosi's district.

 

That's a lot of dots to connect, and the Republicans who told the tale to reporters, never directly connected Pelosi to the Samoa exemption, although some said they were shocked at the legislation. A few newspaper and TV outlets did stories, and some conservative bloggers picked it up, as did some conservative commentators on such outlets as Fox News.

 

Pelosi's staff said the speaker hasn't been lobbied by Del Monte on the wage issue.

 

The issue also led to a lengthy, serio-comic exchange on the House between Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who was in the House chair the day after the minimum wage bill was debated, and two Republicans, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas and Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina as the House debated stem cell research.

 

They wanted to embarrass the Democrats and the speaker, but didn't want to go too strong since the facts don't add up to a giant scandal, at least not yet, in Washington's relentless hot house atmosphere. They were also constrained by the fact that 82 of the 202 GOP House members had voted for the Democratic minimum wage bill.

 

So the two used parliamentary tactics that probably left C-Span viewers, and even some House members, scratching their heads. But Frank, one of the House's sharpest wits, held his own.

 

"Mr. Speaker, inquiry of the contents of this legislation," said McHenry. "Would it be appropriate to offer an amendment at this time exempting American Samoa just as it was from the minimum wage bill?"

 

"The gentleman will suspend," Frank ordered. "Under the rule that was adopted, no amendment is in order at this time."

 

McHenry: "So the gentleman..."

 

Frank: "The gentleman has asked the parliamentary inquiry, and he has received the answer."

 

This went back and forth for a bit until Barton rose.

 

Barton: "Point of order."

Frank: "The gentleman will state his point of order."

 

Barton: "How many times..."

 

Frank: "No. 'How many times' could not conceivably be a point of order. It could be a parliamentary inquiry, but it could not conceivably be a point of order."

 

McHenry: "I have one additional parliamentary inquiry. Is American Samoa exempted from this bill before us on the House floor?"

 

Frank: "The chair will respond to the gentleman: That is not a parliamentary inquiry; that is an inquiry about the substance of a bill. Questions about substance of legislation are not parliamentary inquiries. Parliamentary inquiries pertain to the procedures."

 

This went on until McHenry asked, "Is there a way by which I can derive whether or not American Samoa, like the minimum wage bill, is exempted from this legislation?"

 

Frank: "The answer is as follows: He asks the gentleman on his side who controls debate time to yield him time. He may then with that time under the rule make the question.

 

"The other way I could say the gentleman could find out would be by reading the bill. Read the bill and it will tell you."

 

After more quibbling, an exasperated Frank finally put a stop to the show by saying: "The gentleman from Texas (Rep. Michael Burgess) is recognized to yield time for someone who might actually want to debate the bill."

 

Off the floor, Republicans pointed out that if nothing else the situation showed that Democrats, by pushing the bill through without committee hearings, had been sloppy.

 

They also got the last laugh when Pelosi announced on Friday that she wants the final version of the legislation, which must go to the House and then to a House-Senate conference committee, to cover Samoa along with all other U.S. territories.

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