Friday, January 05, 2007

A historic day!

Pelosi picks up gavel: She becomes the most powerful woman ever in American politics, second in the line of succession to the presidency

Edward Epstein, Zachary Coile, Chronicle Washington Bureau

Friday, January 5, 2007

(01-05) 04:00 PST Washington -- Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco took control of the House of Representatives on Thursday, declaring herself proud of her historic role as the first woman elected speaker and determined to offer "a new vision, a new America.''

The 233 jubilant Democrats in the new 110th Congress cheered and clapped as they voted unanimously for their 66-year-old party leader.

The election capped Pelosi's remarkable rise through the congressional ranks since her first election in June 1987, culminating in what she called the shattering of the "marble ceiling'' that had blocked women from the House's top post since the chamber was organized in 1789.

The 202 Republicans -- looking downcast, even funereal, after losing their 12-year majority in November's elections -- voted for their leader, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio.

"By electing me speaker, you have brought us closer to the ideal of equality that is America's heritage and America's hope,'' Pelosi told her colleagues after receiving the speaker's gavel, the symbol of power in the House, from Boehner at 11:09 a.m. PST.

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1st Muslim elected to Congress takes office

McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - A jubilant Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, was sworn in to office Thursday holding his left hand on a leather-bound volume of a Quran that Thomas Jefferson once owned.

In a day of firsts, the 43-year-old lawyer and former Minnesota state representative was sworn in by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the first female speaker of the House of Representatives.

"It's a day of welcoming," said Ellison, accompanied by his wife, Kim, and their four children, including 12-year-old Elijah, wearing an African kente cloth draped over his suit. "It's a day of more people coming into the process."

"You sure know how to attract a crowd," Pelosi said to Ellison as they prepared for his ceremonial swearing-in in a wood-paneled chamber of the Capitol before hundreds of journalists from around the world, including the Qatar-based TV channel Al-Jazeera.

Replied Ellison: "Maybe they're here for you."

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