This morning, I visited our brave men and women at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. It is a place of prayers, of honor, of respect, and reflection. And I left there more committed than ever to bringing the war to an end.
I told my colleagues yesterday that the biggest ethical issue facing our country for the past three and a half years is the war in Iraq. This unnecessary pre-emptive war has come at great cost. Nearly 2,900 of our brave troops have lost their lives and more than 21,000 more have suffered lasting wounds. Since the war began, Congress has appropriated more than $350 billion, and the United States has suffered devastating damage to our reputation in the eyes of the world.
Yesterday, I was truly honored to have been selected by acclamation of the Democratic Caucus as Speaker-designate. Many of you worked incredibly hard in the past year to see House Democrats take control of Congress and honored us with your vote. When the House reconvenes on January 4, 2007, Democrats will take power and I will take the gavel knowing the responsibility we have to you and to the country.
The new Democratic Congress will live up to the highest ethical standard, beginning with the first 100 legislative hours when we start to change the way business is done in Washington. We are prepared to lead and ready to govern. We will honor the trust of the American people; we will not disappoint.