I suspect many people missed the 11th round of voting for House speaker on Thursday.
I don’t blame them. I think there’s been a kind of Wile E. Coyote element to these votes in terms of watchability. There are but so many times you can watch someone fail repeatedly before the entertainment in it all begins to fade. Which is why almost all television outlets, excluding the obvious C-SPAN, have been jumping in and out of live coverage to catch the most consequential moments in the voting process.
But if you happened to miss round 11, you missed the best nomination speech of the week thus far.
Colorado Democrat Joe Neguse sent a jolt of truth and positive energy through the House with his nomination of New York’s Hakeem Jeffries for speaker. In his speech, Neguse referred to GOP dysfunction, aptly connected it to the Jan. 6 attack on democracy, and spoke of the country’s urgent need for a speaker of Jeffries’ caliber at this time. I’ve excerpted some of my favorite parts below, and thrown in a link to the full speech as well.
“Madam Clerk, the last several days have been difficult for the country and for the American people as they have watched what has unfolded in this chamber — as they have seen the dysfunction laid bare on the other side of the aisle,” Neguse said.
After Republicans referred to Congresses of years past in their nomination speeches, Neguse reminded them of more recent events:
“If we want to talk about history, let’s talk about recent history,” he said. “Two years ago tomorrow, I stood here with so many of you in this chamber as our democracy was attacked, as our colleagues on the other side of the aisle tried to overturn an election. And the country yet again did what it has done before: It looked to House Democrats to lead and to govern. And that is exactly what we did when we certified the election and we safeguarded the transfer of power.”
Then, he cited this John Adams quote to contrast Jeffries’ leadership with that of the GOP nominees. The quote, from a 1776 letter, reads in full: “I fear that in every Assembly members will obtain an influence by noise, not sense; by meanness, not greatness; by ignorance, not learning; by contracted hearts, not large souls.”
And this line — about the country needing a sane, sensible speaker — hit the hardest, in my view:
“The bottom line, my colleagues, is this,” Neguse said, gesturing toward the chamber’s clock. “It is 6:30 p.m. here in Washington DC. The House of Representatives — this sacred institution — needs a leader. It needs a speaker. It needs a leader who will inspire us. A leader who knows that our best days are yet ahead. A leader committed to our communities, and our Constitution and our country, and I am here to tell you: That leader is Hakeem Jeffries of the great state of New York.”
Watch the full speech here: