WATCH: Rep. Young issues call for unity before swearing in Pelosi as House speaker

Rep. Don Young speaks on the House floor on the opening day of the 117th Congress, Jan. 3, 2021. (C-SPAN screenshot)

As the dean of the U.S. House — its longest-serving member — it fell to Alaska Congressman Don Young to swear in Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who narrowly won the election for speaker of the House.

Young seized the moment to make an unexpected speech on the House floor.

“Madame Speaker, before I issue the oath, I’d like to take the privilege of the floor as the dean. I’ve been in this House longer than anybody else … I love this institution,” he said. “I will be honest: I do not like what I see. It’s time we hold hands and talk to one another.”

WATCH: C-SPAN video of Rep. Young’s opening day speech

That statement drew a standing ovation, mostly from the Democratic side of the aisle.

Young went on to remind Pelosi — and Young’s colleagues — that she will be speaker of the entire House, not of one party.

“That may hurt some of you,” Young said, glancing perhaps more to the Democratic side of the chamber.

Young said the House should govern for the good of the country and that Pelosi and Republican leaders could resolve bitter disputes over a drink. She suggested ice cream instead.

Alaska Public Media

Alaska Public Media is our partner station in Anchorage. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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