Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) delivered an emotional final speech Thursday in the House of Representatives.
In his final speech before Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) takes up the gavel, a misty-eyed Boehner briefly reflected on his time as the leader.
“I leave with no regrets, no burdens. If anything, I leave the way I started. I’m just a regular guy humbled by the chance to do a big job,” Boehner said.
Boehner ticked off some of his accomplishments — naming successes in entitlement reforms, spending reductions, and a ban on earmarks.
But Boehner also made a final appeal to his message of patience in governance, a reference to the aggressive caucus of Republicans that were unhappy with his tactics as speaker, which the caucus viewed as too conciliatory.
“The forces of the status quo go to an awful lot of trouble to prevent change. Real change takes time,” Boehner said. “Yes, freedom makes all things possible. But patience is what makes all things real. So believe in the long, slow struggle.”
The famously wry speaker cracked a few jokes, mocking some of his colleagues for their lack of sartorial impulses.
“As much as I love working with all of you, some of you could still learn to dress better,” Boehner deadpanned. “You know who you are.”
Boehner also made one last reference to his famous tear ducts, beginning and ending his speech by waving a box of tissues.
Here’s the full text of Boehner’s remarks:
My colleagues, I rise today to inform you that I will resign as Speaker of the House effective upon the election of my successor.
I will also resign as Representative of Ohio’s Eighth District at the end of this month.
I leave with no regrets or burdens. If anything, I leave as I started — just a regular guy humbled by the chance to do a big job.
That’s what I’m most proud of — that I’m still just me…
But before I go, let me just express what an honour it is been to serve with all of you.
The people’s House is, in my view, the great embodiment of the American idea.
Everyone comes from somewhere and is on some mission.
I come from a part of the world where we’re used to working.
As far back as I can remember, I was working…going back to when I was eight or nine, throwing newspapers, working at my dad’s bar on Saturdays from 5 am – 2 pm for 2 dollars…TOTAL.
I never thought about it as coming up the easy way or the hard way.
It’s just the Cincinnati way.
Our city takes its name from a great Roman general, Cincinnatus — a farmer who answered the call of his nation to lead, then surrendered his power and returned to his plow.
For me, it wasn’t a farm — it was a small business.
And it wasn’t so much a calling as it was a mission: to strive for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government in Washington, DC.
How did we do?
Well, here are some facts….
For the first time in nearly 20 years, we have made real entitlement reforms, saving trillions over the long term.
We have protected 99 per cent of Americans from tax increases.
We are on track to save taxpayers $US2.1 trillion over the next 10 years — the most significant spending reductions in modern history.
We have banned earmarks altogether.
We have protected this institution, and made it more open to the people.
And every day in this capital city, hundreds of kids from the toughest of neighbourhoods are finally getting a decent education.
I am proud of these things.
But the mission is not complete, and the truth is, it may never be…
One thing I came to realise is that this battle over the size and scope of government has been going on for more than 200 years.
And the forces of the status quo go to an awful lot of trouble to prevent change. Real change takes time.
That’s certainly true for all the things I just mentioned.
Yes, freedom makes all things possible.
But patience is what makes all things real.
So believe in the long, slow struggle.
Believe in this country’s ability to meet her challenges, and lead the world.
Believe in the decency of people to come together and do what can be done.
And remember, you can’t do a big job alone, especially this one.
I’m grateful to my family…
I’m grateful to my colleagues…
I’m grateful to all the people who work in this institution … you’ve made me proud every day.
I’m grateful to my staff … I’ve always told them, you never leave Boehnerland, and that certainly goes for me too.
And I’m especially grateful to all my constituents and volunteers over the years…
That includes a student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio who was putting up signs for me during one of my very first campaigns in the early 90s.
His name was Paul Ryan.
I don’t think he knew how to pronounce my name…
But, as Cincinnatus understood, there’s a difference between being asked to do something and being called to do something.
Paul is being called to serve, and I know he will serve that calling with grace and energy.
I wish him, and his family, all the best.
My colleagues, I’ve described my life as a chase for the American Dream.
That chase began at the bottom of a hill just off the main drag in Reading, Ohio.
At the top was a small house with a big family … a shining city in its own right.
The hill had twists. And it had turns. And even a few tears … nothing wrong with that.
But let me tell you, it was all just perfect.
Never forget, we are the luckiest people on the face of the Earth.
In America, you can do anything if you’re willing to work hard and make the necessary sacrifices.
If you falter — and you will — you can just dust yourself off and keep on going.
Because hope always springs eternal.
And if you just do the right things for the right reasons, good things will happen.
And this, too, really can happen to you…
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