Representative Jackie Speier Remarks to Congress (April 10, 2008)

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Representative Jackie Speier Remarks to Congress

April 10, 2008

It is a real honor to be introduced by the Dean of the California Delegation, who was serving his district with distinction back when I worked here as a staffer. And I am thrilled to be joining the Gentlewoman from California, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, one of my longest and dearest friends; and the Gentleman from California, Congressman Mike Thompson, who taught me all I needed to know when I first arrived in the California State Legislature in 1986.

Madame Speaker, I didn’t think it was possible for a person to be filled with both pride and humility at the same time, but that is exactly how I feel today. I am proud to have been chosen by a substantial majority of San Francisco and San Mateo County voters. I am humbled by the faith they have placed in me and by the awesome legacy this particular seat holds.

Recently, I was introduced as having been elected to replace Tom Lantos. I had to laugh. I was elected to succeed Congressman Lantos – no one will ever replace him.

I also follow in the footsteps of Leo Ryan, who served this chamber with distinction until he was assassinated thirty years ago. I was privileged to serve on Congressman Ryan’s staff. I learned from one of the best and he taught me three important lessons:

1. Question the status quo.
2. Always listen to the people you represent.
3. Always stand up for what you believe in --- even if you have to stand alone.

Madame Speaker, I was struck with something while campaigning for this seat. A public servant is never more in tune with her constituents then when she is first running for an office. While holding over sixty community meetings in my district, the most common question was, “When will we get out of Iraq?” It was asked by voters across the spectrum – veterans, students, parents, the prosperous, middle class and those still working toward their piece of the American dream.

The process to bring the troops home must begin immediately. The President wants to stay the course and a man who wants to replace him suggests we could be in Iraq for a hundred years. But Madame Speaker, history will not judge us kindly if we sacrifice four generations of Americans because of the folly of one.

And Madame Speaker, as passionate as people are about getting out of Iraq, they are also worried about their jobs, their houses and their futures.

I got an earful from taxpayers, outraged that the Fed bailed out Bear Stearns while neighbors are losing their homes to predatory lending practices. A man in a union hall put it simply: “When will our government care as much for Main Street Americans as Wall Street speculators?” As long as I am here, I will strive to make sure that the voices of Main Street are heard as loudly as the voices of Wall Street.

Madame Speaker, you are an inspiration to me, to America, and to women all over the world. I stand before you, eager to learn and ready to help make the laws of the greatest country on earth reflect its values --- Fairness, justice and a guarantee that working men and women, parents, students, seniors, the disabled and the disaffected – every American – has the right to a seat at the table of opportunity.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).