By Gina Martinez
January 3, 2019

Newly-elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday after Democrats officially took control of the legislative body, invoking two Presidents while laying out her leadership agenda.

Both were Republican. Neither was President Donald Trump.

Pelosi made her triumphant return as Speaker on Thursday, after making history in 2007 as the first woman to hold the position. After the 116th Congress convened on Thursday, Pelosi won back her gavel with 220 total votes. In her speech, Pelosi made reference to President Ronald Reagan and paid tribute to President George H.W. Bush, who died in November.

Pelosi evoked former President Reagan’s final speech as President, where he emphasized the importance of open borders. “If we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost,” she quoted Reagan as saying.

She did not mention Trump’s name, or even make direct reference to him, though Democrats won back the House in the 2018 midterm elections with promises to be an effective check on Trump’s power.

In her speech, Pelosi celebrated the 116th Congress as the most diverse in history. She said the new Democratic-led House enters with a sense of great hope and confidence for the future and that during the midterms the American people spoke and “demanded a new dawn.”

“They want a Congress that delivers results for the people, opening up opportunity and lifting up their lives,” she said. “When our new members take the oath, our Congress will be refreshed, and our Democracy will be strengthened by the optimism, idealism and patriotism of this transformative freshman class.”

Pelosi also asked for Republican help in voting to end the partial government shutdown, which has resulted from a showdown over funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall that Trump is demanding.

“Democrats will be offering the Senate Republican appropriations legislation to re-open government later today – to meet the needs of the American people, to protect our borders, and to respect our workers,” she said.

Read Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s full speech:

 


Write to Gina Martinez at gina.martinez@time.com.

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