Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement that she will not seek re-election to Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
I just left the floor of the House for one of the most emotional moments I’ve had in my career: the valedictory of Nancy Pelosi, one of the greatest legislators--and greatest people--I’ve ever met.
I first met Nancy Pelosi back in 1987. I was a Congressman and we had a little dinner group that would go out to dinner every Tuesday night.
One of the leaders of that group, George Miller, Congressman from California, came up to me.
He said, “In a few minutes, I’m going to introduce you to a new member of our group. She’s the new congresswoman from San Francisco and she’s going to become the first woman Speaker.”
That was the first thing I heard about Nancy Pelosi, even before I met her.
And the moment I met her, I saw what he meant. It was obvious that this new member from the West Coast of California had it all.
Nancy D'alesandro Pelosi.
She's the proud daughter of Baltimore's Little Italy neighborhood, the estimable Representative from the state of California, and the first woman ever to serve as Speaker of the United States Congress.
It was amazing. She did an amazing job. And I wanted to go over to the House floor where I'd served 18 happy years – many of them as a colleague of Speaker Pelosi and a friend – to just say thank you for the amazing things she has done for our country.
Few in American history have been as effective, as driven, as successful as Speaker Pelosi. She's transformed practically every corner of American politics, and unquestionably made America a better, stronger nation.
You know, I'm known as having a lot of energy, but I have never, ever, met anyone with more energy than Nancy D'alesandro Pelosi.
She is always moving in many directions at once, and she knows she has a complete grasp of each direction in which she's moving, even though she's moving at the same time. She's just an amazing person.
She never forgot why she's in the fight to begin with: as she said, the children, they’re always her North Star, helping the children of America. And she did so much.
Her passion to pass the ACA was for the children, above all. And for women, where she broke, of course, one of the greatest glass ceilings we've had, becoming the first woman speaker,
And the American Rescue Plan and the Lilly Ledbetter Act and the Infrastructure Bill and VAWA and pandemic relief, climate change, repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell; these are just a few of her amazing achievements. She taught me a whole lot.
Nancy Pelosi paid attention to each of her members, I tried to do the same. And she always taught the members to be unified. Her expression that she repeated over and over again, which I have repeated to my caucus on so many occasions: in our unity is our strength. She would tell us, she would tell everyone that if everyone goes in his or her own direction, you'll get nothing done. But if we all come together, and everybody gives a little bit she, we could get a lot done. And she sure did.
I remember the moments that just became available [on tape], when she and I were at the secret place during the attack on this Capitol, which so struck her.
But there she was cool, calm and collected. And together, we worked to try and get either the National Guard or the police on the Hill. And we resolved that we were going to come back and actually count the votes. That'll be regarded as one of Speaker Pelosi’s greatest moments.
And again, she was cool, calm, collected. She knew exactly what to do and how to do it.
So it’s hard to fathom that very soon we will begin a new Congress where she is no longer a member of the party leadership. In my time as Democratic Leader—and as Majority Leader—she’s the best partner and ally I could ask for. And we’ve also been friends; she shared the joy of the birth of my children, I’ve shared the joy of so many of the good things that happened in her family. She always is talking about her family—and always wanted to hear about mine. She’s not only a great legislator, she’s a great human being.
And today, I particularly want to wish my very best to her family, especially her husband Paul. I cannot imagine how painful and scary it has been for the Pelosi family in the aftermath of Paul’s attack, but as usual Speaker Pelosi carried herself with the same courage, grace, and dignity that she’s always been true to.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, Nancy Pelosi made our country a much better place for countless women and girls from every walk of life. Nancy Pelosi was the one to blaze the trail, but you can be certain that countless other women will rise up in leadership in this country because of what she’s accomplished and how she inspire them.
I will have more to say in the weeks to come. But for now let me finish with this: to Nancy Pelosi—my dear, good and close friend—thank you. Thank you for being you. Thank you for dedicating your life to public service. Thank you for teaching us so much. Thank you for inspiring us all. It has been an honor of a lifetime to work with you.