My colleagues – today you vote for a Whip to succeed David Bonior. America’s working families have no greater champion than David. His historic service as Whip will be a model for leaders for years to come.
I look forward to serving as Whip under the exceptional leadership of House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt who has inspired the caucus at this challenging time and who has earned the respect of the entire country.
At this particularly difficult time, I look forward to bringing my experience as the Ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, the former Ranking Democrat on the Foreign Operations and Export Financing Appropriations Subcommittee, and my long-standing commitment to America’s working families to the highest levels of congressional leadership.
The tragic events of September 11th have heightened our sense of community. As our country mourns those who died, comforts their loved ones, and supports President Bush in eliminating terrorism, we must face the economic realities. We can never forget that our strength as a nation is measured both in our military might and in the health, education, and well being of our people.
First we must assist New York in its recovery effort. We must also see our other priorities as economic issues. Educating our people is the most dynamic investment we can make and will bring more funds into the Treasury than any tax incentive you can name. Issues like access to quality health care, affordable housing, and job and pension security contribute to our nations security. These investments are sound economic policy. Seeing issues through the prism of the economy should affect our budget decisions in Congress.
The 200,000 people who were laid off last month still need to put food on the table. The one million men and women who lost their jobs in the past year still have children who need to see a doctor. The 60 million children who began a new school year last month still need excellent teachers. The millions of Americans who clean offices and take care of our parents and our children still need an increase in the minimum wage. We can’t afford to leave them behind.
As House Democratic Whip, I will make the economy the central issue of the Whip operation. I will see to it that the galaxy of talent and expertise that House Members possess is enlisted both inside the leadership and showcased to the American people. Our country is blessed by the talent and dedication of every Member of the Democratic Caucus. Now, more than ever, we need to use all the resources of our caucus to find solutions to keep our nation strong. If we can showcase the talent and excellence in this caucus, I believe we will be a source of hope and pride to the American people.
Over the past three years, I have been meeting with our Members to be current about their aspirations and the politics of their districts. As Whip, I will draw upon that knowledge to help Democrats win the House and govern effectively when we do. With my election as Whip we will make history, we will make progress, and, working together, we will win back the House.
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