Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s portrait was unveiled Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol, a traditional honor that was bestowed in front of a friendly crowd filled with media members, family, friends, and establishment Republican and Democratic Party leaders.
The ceremony at the ornate Statuary Hall drew both current and former members of Congress.
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The guests included the Democratic leader’s husband, Paul Pelosi, who is recovering from a brutal hammer attack by an intruder who allegedly broke into their San Francisco home, and former Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
Former President Barack Obama said in a videotaped message that Pelosi has “inspired a generation of women to run, win and lead because they’ve seen her, what someone like her — and someone like them — can do.”
Obama recounted how his signature Affordable Care Act was all but abandoned after a Senate election defeat, except for Pelosi’s persistence. “The only thing she wasn’t willing to do was give up. And like always, she got it done.”
But it was the former Republican speaker, John Boehner, known for teary eyes at times like these, who riled conservative critics when he cried and said Pelosi was an inspiration to his daughters.
“My girls told me, tell the speaker how much we admire her,” he said.
“If you couldn’t tell, my girls are Democrats,” Boehner said to laughter.
Boehner: my girls told me, tell the speaker how much we admire her… pic.twitter.com/Ji2rAJ4sHl
— Acyn (@Acyn) December 14, 2022
“Boehner crying in tribute to Pelosi while talking about how his daughters are Democrats is a pretty good summation of Republican leadership over the past couple of decades,” wrote Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro.
Boehner’s praise “reminds Republicans why they can’t stand Washington,” another critic wrote.
Pelosi’s portrait was painted years ago after her first tenure as speaker from 2007 to 2011 but was held back. She regained the gavel in 2019, the first House leader in some 50 years to serve non-consecutive terms as speaker.
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Pelosi announced after the November midterm election, when the Democrats lost power to Republicans, that she would not seek another term as leader, ending 20 years as head of the party in the House. She is staying on as simply the representative from San Francisco.
Among those establishment politicians who joined Boehner in the crowd was Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who is struggling to win conservative support to replace her as speaker when the new Congress convenes in January. He sat alongside Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who Democrats elected as their new party leader, the historic first Black American to lead a major political party.
“The younger generation today has the saying: Game recognizes game,” Boehner said. “And the fact of the matter is no other speaker of the House in the modern era Republican or Democrat — has wielded the gavel with such authority or with such consistent results. Let me just say, You’re one tough cookie.”
Painted by the late Ronald Sherr in 2014, the portrait of Pelosi will hang in the Speaker’s Lobby, a room adjacent to the House chamber, filled with the portraits of past speakers, all of them white men.
In her own remarks, Pelosi said she was honored her colleagues “had the courage to elect a woman speaker.”
“This painting will stand out as a woman in that Speaker’s Lobby,” Pelosi said. “I’m honored to be the first, but it will only be a big of accomplishment if I’m not the last.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article