Pelosi praises "transformative freshman class" in speech

By Grace Segers

/ CBS News

Pelosi faces challenges from left and right

Rep. Nancy Pelosi is expected to be elected Thursday as speaker of the House of Representatives for the second time, cementing her legacy as one of the most effective female legislators in American history. In her prepared floor speech upon accepting the speaker's gavel Thursday, Pelosi will outline Democratic policy priorities, including addressing income inequality and climate change. She's also anticipating a new dawn in the House after her party's net 40-seat gain.

"When our new members take the oath, our Congress will be refreshed, and our democracy will be strengthened by the optimism, idealism and patriotism of this transformative freshman class," she will say in her speech, according to prepared remarks. As speaker, she'll preside over the swearing in of new members of Congress.

Pelosi will say Democrats must be "pioneers of the future" and "accelerate a future that advances America's preeminence in the world" by improving public education and workforce development. She also sounds a warning on climate change, calling it "a crisis manifested in natural disasters of epic proportions."

"This is a public health decision for clean air and clean water; an economic decision for America's global preeminence in green technology; a security decision to keep us safe; and a moral decision to be good stewards of God's creation," Pelosi will say about the need for Congress to combat climate change.

However, before Pelosi can achieve any of these goals, the partial government shutdown must end. President Trump is refusing to sign any legislation which does not include funding for a border wall, which Democrats in the House and Senate are unwilling to provide.

"We will debate and advance good ideas no matter where they come from – and in that spirit, Democrats will be offering the Senate Republican appropriations legislation to re-open government later today – to meet the needs of the American people, and to protect our borders," Pelosi will say about the Democrats' immediate agenda.

She'll also refer to the "For the People" agenda, which Democrats campaigned on nationally, a package including bills on infrastructure, ethics reform, lowering health care costs and protecting those with pre-existing conditions.

Nancy Cordes contributed to this report.

First published on January 3, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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