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Pelosi Receives Inaugural Frances Perkins Award

Posted by Will Rice (will) on Nov 07 2011 at 4:37 PM
FALL 2011 >>

In presenting the inaugural Frances Perkins Award for Outstanding Government Service to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congressional colleague and ADA President Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) said of the former Speaker: “Just as we were lucky to have a leader like Frances Perkins in the economic crisis of the 1930s, we are lucky to have a leader like Nancy Pelosi today.”

“In addition to being tough, she has grace, eloquence, poise—at once compassionate and tenacious,” Woolsey said of her fellow Northern Californian. The honoree went on to display all those qualities (plus a lively sense of humor) in her remarks.

Pelosi declared herself a long-time admirer of the New Deal Labor Secretary for whom her award is named, saying the Perkins biography she was receiving that night was her second copy of the book, allowing her to now have one on each coast.

She also displayed an appreciation for the work of ADA, both past and present: thanking “you and one of your founders, Eleanor Roosevelt, for Medicare”; stressing last year’s health care reform “couldn’t have happened without you”; promoting the organization’s current Vote For Jobs employment-legislation campaign; and saying that after the disastrous midterm elections of 2010, “The work of ADA has never been more important.”

Referring to the deficit-cutting Congressional “super committee” that was just beginning to meet, the former Speaker demanded that “that table of 12” be a “table of job creation.” She said reducing unemployment was “as simple as ABC”: a return to American-made manufactured goods; building infrastructure; and creating a corps of workers to relaim “devastated communities.”

She wound up her remarks (“I just realized I’m standing in the way of your dinner,” she apologized, but then added: “You’ve had your salad; there are rolls.”) by referring to the rendition of the National Anthem that had opened the proceedings. Pelosi said her favorite part of the song was the line that asked if “the flag was still there.

“Well, it is there,” proudly said the native of Baltimore, where the Anthem was written. “Our great flag,” she added with feeling, the ballroom responding with a standing ovation.