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Speaker Boehner: No Longer Can We Fall Short

In his opening speech to Congress and the nation, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will pledge to act to tackle the nation's fiscal problems, saying the nation can no longer defer hard decisions. (His office has released excerpts from the speech to be delivered this afternoon.)

He's also promising a more open process than has existed under prior Republican and Democratic House leaders that will take into account the minority party views.

In the democratic (small "d") spirit, Boehner will underscore that he realizes that congressional power is derived from the people and is temporary to boot.

A video from new Speaker John Boehner's web site.

Boehner also acknowledges the partisan differences between Republicans and Democrats and that some won't be bridged. But just because the sides may disagree, he says they can be respectful.

In short, the speech is pretty typical of what speakers promise on the opening day of Congress.

Here are the excerpts:

Excerpts from Boehner’s Speech to the Opening Session of the 112th Congress

Washington (Jan 5)

Following are excerpts from Speaker-designate John Boehner’s (R-OH) remarks to the opening session of the 112th Congress which will convene today at 12:00 p.m. ET:

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“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.”

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"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.”

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“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.”

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“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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