Nancy Pelosi blazed a trail as the first woman elected Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Now she will be the first "Madam Speaker" immortalized forever with a portrait in the Speaker's Lobby of the Capitol.
The portrait shows Pelosi on the House dais with the speaker's gavel in her hand. It was painted eight years ago by the late Ron Sherr who died last week. Pelosi said she takes pride in being the first woman to serve as House speaker but that breaking this particular barrier is not enough.
"This painting will stand out as a woman in that Speaker's Lobby. I'm really honored my members had the courage to elect a woman speaker," Pelosi said. "That is not without courage."
"Somewhere in this Congress is a future woman speaker to be," Pelosi added. "I'm honored to be the first, but it will only be a good accomplishment if I'm not the last."
A number of Democrats and Republicans, including past and potentially future House Speakers, joined her for the portrait’s unveiling.
Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who succeeded Pelosi in the role in 2011, choked up as he sang Pelosi’s praises.
"You’ve been unfailingly gracious to me, to my family and, frankly, my team here in Washington. And Madam Speaker, I have to say, my girls told me, ‘tell the Speaker how much we admire her,'" an emotional Boehner said Wednesday, adding: "As if you couldn't tell, my girls are Democrats."
"Madam Speaker, you and I have disagreed politically on many things over the years, but we were never disagreeable with each other," Boehner said, praising Pelosi.
“The younger generation today has a saying: game recognizes game," he added. "The fact of the matter is: No other speaker in the modern era, Republican or Democrat has wielded the gavel with such authority or such consistent results."
Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader and candidate for speaker himself next Congress, attended the ceremony despite his frosty relationship with Pelosi.
Also in attendance was her family, including husband Paul Pelosi, who is still recovering from a violent assault in their San Francisco home.
A number of Democratic officials sang the praises of their outgoing leader, who announced she would be stepping down from the role she held for two decades.
"Nancy, from one leader to another, one of the things I will forever admire is how you always kept your caucus united for over 20 years," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
"Nancy Pelosi has made the world a better place for countless women and girls from all walks of life," Schumer said. "Somewhere out there, a future Madam Speaker awaits her chance to make a difference, and when she does, she'll be standing on my friend Nancy Pelosi's shoulders."
"For anyone who doesn't already know, whenever I get stressed about what's happening in Washington, I always feel better knowing that Nancy is on the case," former President Barack Obama said in a video message. "And that's because for Nancy, nothing is impossible."
"I’ll still feel better knowing that your portrait will be looking down from these walls, reminding everyone who sees it to keep up the fight," Obama said.
Pelosi was elected to Congress from San Francisco in 1987 and climbed the ranks of Democratic leadership, becoming House Speaker in 2007 and returning to the role again in 2019. She was influential in corraling the votes to pass key pieces of legislation, including the Affordable Care Act under President Obama and the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law under President Joe Biden.
Wednesday’s ceremony was the latest in a series of tributes. Biden gave her a shout-out Tuesday at a ceremony to sign legislation protecting same-sex marriage.
“Equality and dignity for the LGBTQ+ community have always been her north star. From her first speech on the House floor, pledging to end aids and signing the bill today all that in the same time span, said Biden. "Madam Speaker, on behalf of all Americans, thank you for this and so much more for your decades of service.”
The bill’s passage represented a full circle moment for Pelosi as she prepares to step away from leadership.
“When I was ending my term as speaker the first time, one of the last bills that I signed as speaker was Dec. 2010, the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And now we're also fitting in one of my final acts as speaker and that is … the Respect for Marriage Act."
Pelosi will still preside over the majority until the new Republican-led congress begins in January.