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Pelosi Floor Speech on the Passing of Former Congressman Jerry Lewis

Contact: Speaker’s Press Office,

202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in honor of former California Congressman Jerry Lewis.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.   Thank you, Mr. Calvert, for calling this Special Order in honor of our former colleague, Jerry Lewis.  As fellow Californians, we know – we were his friends and know what a loss it is to us that he has now – is now looking down on us.  Maybe that’s what’s needed.  That’s the plus. 

Mr. Speaker, I join my colleagues from California, again, thanking Mr. Calvert, for honoring a fierce and fearless champion of the Golden State, our late cherished colleague, Congressman Jerry Lewis.  Jerry Lewis lived a life dedicated to California, from serving on the San Bernardino City Council Board to his decade in the California Assembly to his 34 years representing Inland Empire communities in the U.S. Congress. 

It was when he was in the Assembly that I got to know him, over 40 years ago.  I was the Chair of the Northern California Democratic Party, and he was on the Committee of jurisdiction — of one of the Committees that was viewing legislation of concern to voter participation in our state.  He always had that smile.  He was always very inviting of ideas, very welcoming.  I was brand new in the political arena.  I had hardly been involved in California politics.  And so, his warm welcome then is something I’ll always remember.  And when we served together in Congress, we both remembered it well. 

Jerry and I have been friends, again, for a long time.  Then, in Congress we served on the Appropriations Committee, where he took great pride in being Chair of the full Committee.  He was the first Chair of the Committee from California – how could it be?  How could it be – which he described as a milestone beyond his ‘wildest dreams.’  As you know, Mr. Aguilar, who was here – again, bipartisan remembrances of Jerry – Mr. Aguilar is part of the Appropriations Committee.  And we have our own culture and bipartisanship there over the years. 

Jerry took great pride in running the Committee because he knew its power to make a difference in the lives of the people he represented.  And it was always important to him to reach across the aisle, because in his words, and these are his words, ‘The more we can talk to each other as individuals and human beings, the better off the institution is going to be and the more responsive it’s going to be.’ 

When we look around California, we see Jerry’s legacy.  We see it in the cancer research center he established at the Loma Linda University Medical Center, in San Bernardino National Forest, which he helped to protect, and the Lewis Center for Educational Research, exploring the night sky.  And we see his monument in so many tributes that bear his name throughout his community, from Redlands to Riverside, Highland to Hesperia.  It’s fitting that Californians were able to say goodbye to Jerry at the University of Redlands Chapel in the community he so loved. 

Jerry’s unique voice, core values and belief in the promise of America made a difference for California and, indeed, for our country.  May it be a comfort to Jerry’s wife, Arlene, their children, Jenifer, Jerry Jr., Jeff and Dan, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Jerry’s brothers, Ray and John, and all their loved ones that so many people mourn their loss, pray for them at this sad time and will always remember Jerry as a great American and a great Californian. 

With that, I yield back to the gentleman and thank him for the invitation to participate this afternoon.

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