HAKEEM JEFFRIES: Speaker. Mike Johnson. Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi. Whip Clark. Chairman Aguilar, all of my colleagues in government on both sides of the aisle. It's an honor and a privilege to once again stand before you as House Democratic leader. From the very beginning of this Congress. House Democrats have made clear that we will find bipartisan common ground with our Republican colleagues whenever and wherever possible for the good of the American people. And House Democrats have repeatedly done just that.
It was House Democrats who provided a majority of the votes necessary to avoid a catastrophic default on our debt that would have crashed the U.S. economy, and triggered a job-killing recession. It was House Democrats who provided a majority of the votes necessary to avoid a government shutdown that would have hurt everyday Americans.
It was House Democrats who provided a majority of the votes necessary to secure $16 billion in disaster assistance for Americans whose lives have been devastated by extreme weather events. From the very beginning of this Congress, House Democrats have been governing for the people.
We continue to look forward to finding bipartisan common ground whenever and wherever possible. House Democrats will continue to partner with President Biden and Senate Democrats to put people over politics. House Democrats will continue to fight for lower costs, better-paying jobs, safer communities and to build an economy from the middle out and the bottom up, and not the top down.
House Democrats will continue to push back against extremism in this chamber and throughout the country. House Democrats will continue to protect Social Security, protect Medicare, protect Medicaid, protect our children, protect our climate, protect low- income families, protect working families, protect the middle class, protect organized labor, protect the LGBTQ community, protect our veterans, protect older Americans, protect the Affordable Care Act, protect the right to vote, protect the peaceful transfer of power, protect our democracy, and protect a woman's freedom to make her own reproductive health care decision.
These are blue lines in the sand, and we will work hard to make sure that they are never crossed. We must also continue to stand by President Biden as he works to bring American hostages and Israeli hostages, held by Hamas, back home. American hostages and Israeli hostages and international hostages, back home.
We must also stand by our friends on the international stage. And we have no better friend in the Middle East than the state of Israel. Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. The special relationship between the United States and Israel is unbreakable. Our commitment to Israel's security is ironclad and Israel has a right to defend itself under the international rules of war against the brutal terror unleashed on its citizens by Hamas.
Our ironclad commitment to Israel's security and the effort to defeat Hamas is not inconsistent with the goal of achieving a lasting and just peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. In many ways, it is a necessary ingredient because Hamas is not good for Israel. Hamas is not good for America. Hamas is not good for the free world. Hamas is not good for the democratic aspirations of the Palestinian people.
We must also support Ukraine in its courageous effort to defeat Russian aggression. There are only two paths in front of us: We can either stand up for Ukraine or bow down to Vladimir Putin. That is not a difficult choice. We must stand up for America's national security. We must stand up for democracy. We must stand up for freedom. We must stand up for truth. We must stand up for the Ukrainian people until victory is won.
It is my expectation that in the next week or so, the Senate will send over for consideration a bipartisan national security funding package for Israel, Ukraine, and our other allies throughout the free world. That also includes humanitarian assistance for Palestinian civilians and others who may be in harm's way. The House of Representatives should take up this national security package and humanitarian relief package immediately in totality, and without delay. The time for gamesmanship is over. The time for brinksmanship is over. The time for partisanship is over. It's time to get back to doing the business of the American people.
Let me conclude. Let me conclude with an observation about the state of our democracy. Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. He's doing a great job under difficult circumstances, and no amount of election denialism will ever change that reality. Not now, not ever.
Throughout the years, presidents from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, Dwight Eisenhower to Lyndon Baines Johnson, have spoken to this chamber and urged us to put aside partisan politics for the good of the American people. President Lincoln spoke to this Congress on December 1st, 1862, in the middle of the Civil War, and noted that we in this institution had the power and bore the responsibility to save the union.
The stakes were high. As articulated by President Lincoln, we could either nobly save or meanly lose America as we know it. The last best hope on earth. This is a turbulent time in the American journey, and we have but one chance to keep during this moment of great fragility. Our union must be sustained. Our union must be strengthened. Our union must succeed.
There are many throughout this country who are understandably alarmed at the turbulence of the moment, at the chaos, the dysfunction, and the extremism that has been unleashed in this chamber, from the very beginning of this Congress. But this, too, shall pass. Our country has often confronted adversity, and the good news is we always find a way to make it to the other side.
We faced adversity in the 1860s, in the middle of the Civil War, when the country was literally tearing itself apart. We faced adversity in October of 1929 when the stock market collapsed, plunging us into a Great Depression. We faced adversity in December of 1941, when a foreign power unexpectedly struck, plunging us into a world war with the evil empire of Nazi Germany.
We faced adversity in the Deep South in the 1950s and sixties, when the country was struggling to reconcile the inherent contradictions between Jim Crow segregation and the glorious promises of the Constitution. We faced adversity on September 11th, 2001, when the Towers and the Pentagon were unexpectedly struck, killing thousands of lives in an instant. We faced adversity right here in the House of Representatives when on January 6, 2021, a violent mob of insurrectionists incited by some in this chamber overran the House floor as part of an effort to halt the peaceful transfer of power.
Every time we faced adversity, the good news here in America is that we always overcome. That is the power of American exceptionalism. That is why America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. That is why I remain optimistic about the future of this country. That is why America is the last, best hope on earth.
God bless you. God bless the House of Representatives. God bless the United States of America.
It is now my solemn honor and responsibility to hand over the people's gavel here in the United States House of Representatives, to a family man, a hard-working man, a Baptist man, a Southern man, a son of a firefighter's household, the gentleman from the great state of Louisiana and the 56th speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Honorable Mike Johnson.