Pelosi is first woman speaker of U.S. House


Published: Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 2:07 p.m.

It's a glass ceiling no one else has even cracked, and Nancy Pelosi was crashing through it recently, preparing to be sworn in as the nation's first-ever female House speaker.

‘‘Today we make history. Today we change the direction of our country,'' Pelosi told supporters at a brunch in the Library of Congress.

The 66-year-old San Francisco Democrat began her history-making day running

into anti-abortion demonstrators as she went to a prayer service with her husband, Paul, and a daughter at St. Peter's Catholic Church near the Capitol.

You can't be Catholic and pro-abortion,'' read one placard. Pelosi and her entourage walked past the protesters without saying anything.

Attending the service with her were Republican leaders that her party put into the minority in the November election: new Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Also there were new House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, a one-time Pelosi rival elected by House Democrats to be her No. 2 over her protests, and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean.

She also attended a ceremonial swearing-in of the Congressional Black Caucus, where the incoming leader of the 42-member group, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., made clear that they intended to have a voice in the new Congress.

She must deliver because black people delivered that we might have this majority,'' Kilpatrick said of Pelosi.

The House was convening at midday with Democrats rejoicing over taking control of Congress after 12 years in the minority.

Pelosi always has said she wants to be judged by her abilities, not her gender, but she happily acknowledged the importance of her achievement.

Becoming the first woman speaker will send a message to young girls and women across the country that anything is possible for them,'' she said.

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