Regrets? Madam Speaker has none
Nancy Pelosi spent her final full day as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives saying she had “no regrets.”
“I don’t really look back. I look forward,” said Pelosi, who as speaker became the most powerful woman ever in American politics.
At noon on Wednesday, the new 112th Congress will convene with Republicans in control of the House, ending Pelosi’s four-year reign as the first woman speaker, a position that is second in the line of succession to the U.S. presidency, behind only the vice president.
In that post, the 70-year-old California Democrat has been derided by critics as a free-spending liberal, yet praised by backers as a crusading trailblazer.
She helped pushed through Congress much of President Barack Obama’s agenda, including an overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system, a crackdown on Wall Street and an end to the U.S. military’s ban against gays serving openly in its ranks.
But Pelosi’s Democrats lost control of the House largely because of their inability to bring down a stubbornly high U.S. jobless rate of nearly 10 percent.
Asked if she had any regrets that Democrats didn’t spend more time trying to remedy fiscal matters, Pelosi said no. And she pointed a finger of blame at what she described as Republican obstructionists in the U.S. Senate.
“We have no regrets,” said Pelosi, flanked by fellow House Democratic leaders. “This House has, over and over again, sent to the Senate legislation for job creation, which the Republicans in the Senate held up.”
“When our Republican colleagues have positive solutions, again, they will have a willing partner (in Democrats) in solving problems for the American people,” said Pelosi, who will serve as House minority leader in the new Congress.
She made it clear that Republicans can count on tough opposition when they try, as promised, to roll back some of Democrats’ legislative achievements.
“House Democrats will continue to protect the gains we have made on behalf of health and economic security for the American people, both in terms of the health care reform bill and the Wall Street reform bill,” Pelosi said.
She congratulated John Boehner, who will replace her as speaker, and his fellow Republicans who will control the House for the next two years.
“I wish them success. I look forward to working with them. But that’s the key: We look forward,” Pelosi said.
Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Pelosi with Democratic leaders on Jan. 4, and Obama kisses Pelosi before signing repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” December 2010)