Jubilant Democrats on Thursday elected Rep. Nancy Pelosi as the first woman speaker of the House, the crowning celebration of newfound power the party won in the November electoral sweep.
"I accept this gavel in the spirit of partnership, not partisanship, and look forward to working with you on behalf of the American people," Pelosi said. "In this House, we may belong to different parties, but we serve one country."
Both Democrats and Republicans pledged cooperation despite years of bitter partisanship and gridlock, to try to get the 110th Congress off on a productive note.
House Democrats also were ready to impose a ban on gifts from lobbyists and a clampdown on travel funded by private interests - measures crafted in response to the ethics scandals that weakened Republicans in last fall's elections.
The first hours of the new Democratic-held House were devoted to Pelosi's election and remarks - for which the Californian received numerous standing ovations, especially from the House's record 71 women lawmakers, thrilled that one of their own had finally ascended to the speakership. Some of the women senators also came to the House side to cheer Pelosi's history-shattering moment.
"This is an historic moment - for the Congress, and for the women of this country," Pelosi said. "It is a moment for which we have waited more than 200 years."