Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi officially has her gavel back

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Congress will be led by a grown-up again.

On Thursday, the 116th Congress was sworn in and California Democrat Nancy Pelosi once again became speaker of the House.

Pelosi became the first woman to hold the position after Democrats took control of the House in 2006. Last November, Pelosi helped lead Democrats to a massive victory once again, picking up 40 seats in the House and ushering in a new era of Democratic control, electing more women, more people of color, more progressives, and — perhaps most critically — more actual grownups willing to fulfill their constitutional duty to keep the belligerent and lawless occupant of the Oval Office in check.

Upon accepting the speaker's gavel for the second time in her career, Pelosi noted her place in history and set forth a new agenda for the now Democratically controlled Congress.

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"I am particularly proud to be the woman Speaker of the House of this Congress, which marks 100 years of women winning the right to vote, as we serve with more than 100 women in the House of Representatives — the highest number in history," Pelosi said in her prepared remarks.

"We enter this new Congress with a sense of great hope and confidence for the future, and deep humility and prayerfulness in the face of the challenges ahead."

Pelosi reminded her colleagues that the American people sent a clear message in November "and demanded a new dawn."

That new dawn, she continued, means working for every American and "advancing progress for every community."

She called on Congress to "be pioneers of the future" and detailed the agenda that all members of Congress should support.

"We must fight for the middle class in a way that is fair and fiscally sound — protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security," she said. "We must also face the existential threat of our time: the climate crisis — a crisis manifested in natural disasters of epic proportions. The American people understand the urgency. The people are ahead of the Congress. The Congress must join them."

Pelosi also noted that she will immediately move to end Trump's shutdown and re-open the government.

"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.

She concluded by reminding her colleagues of the oath they take to uphold the Constitution and serve the people they represent.

"As we take the oath of office today, we accept responsibility as daunting and demanding as any that previous generations of leadership have faced," Pelosi said. "Guided by the vision and values of our Founders, the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and the aspirations that we have for our children, let us meet that responsibility with courage, wisdom and grace."

Pelosi's job will not be an easy one. Republicans still control the Senate, and they have made it clear they would rather capitulate to Trump's recklessness and whims than do their job. But they would be foolish to underestimate Pelosi, widely recognized as the most effective House leader in the modern era, even when she represented the minority.

Now Pelosi once again has the power of the speaker's gavel — and it's clear she intends to use it to serve the American people.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.