The Corner

Boehner: ‘The People’s House’

“We gather here today at a time of great challenges.  Nearly one in ten of our neighbors are looking for work.  Health care costs are still rising for families and small businesses.  Our spending has caught up with us, and our debt will soon eclipse the size of our entire economy.  Hard work and tough decisions will be required of the 112th Congress. No longer can we fall short.  No longer can we kick the can down the road.  The people voted to end business as usual, and today we begin carrying out their instructions.”

That’s how House Speaker-designate John Boehner will frame his mission later today in his first speech as speaker. In excerpts obtained by National Review Online, Boehner casts himself as a “humbled” leader who accepts the speaker’s gavel “cheerfully and gratefully.”

“The American people have humbled us. They have refreshed our memories as to just how temporary the privilege to serve is.  They have reminded us that everything here is on loan from them.  That includes this gavel, which I accept cheerfully and gratefully, knowing I am but its caretaker.  After all, this is the people’s House.  This is their Congress.  It’s about them, not us.  What they want is a government that is honest, accountable and responsive to their needs.  A government that respects individual liberty, honors our heritage, and bows before the public it serves.”

“Our aim will be to give government back to the people.  In seeking this goal, we will part with some of the rituals that have come to characterize this institution under majorities Republican and Democratic alike.  We will dispense with the conventional wisdom that bigger bills are always better; that fast legislating is good legislating; that allowing additional amendments and open debate makes the legislative process “less efficient” than our forefathers intended.  These misconceptions have been the basis for the rituals of modern Washington.  The American people have not been well served by them.”

Boehner will also advocate for a “free exchange of ideas” through “a fair debate and a fair vote.”

“We will not always get it right.  We will not always agree on what is right.  A great deal of scar tissue has built up on both sides of the aisle.  We cannot ignore that, nor should we. My belief has always been, we can disagree without being disagreeable to each other.  That’s why it is critical this institution operate in a manner that permits a free exchange of ideas, and resolves our honest differences through a fair debate and a fair vote.  We may have different – sometimes, very different – ideas for how to go about achieving the common good, but it is our shared goal.  It is why we serve.”

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