Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDisputed North Carolina race raises prospect of congressional probe The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — The political currents that will drive the shutdown showdown Kobach ‘very concerned’ voter fraud may have happened in North Carolina MORE was answering questions about the need for bold leadership and making the Democratic message more appealing to the Midwest when the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center. We were in my Rayburn Building congressional office and there were a dozen members of the Caucus deciding how to vote in the pending House whip contest. She was honest but not afraid to disagree, inclusive but not pandering, and strong in her principles yet a very good listener.

These were essential character values in 2001 and appear to be even more crucial in 2018. She won my vote, despite the fact that we disagree on many policy issues. She represents San Francisco, one of the more liberal districts in America, and I represented a suburban/rural Indiana district and had defeated an incumbent Republican to wrestle the seat into the blue column. She came from the progressive wing of the party; I was a co-founder of the New Democratic Coalition, a more moderate philosophy of pragmatic problem solvers. I did not need her to campaign in my constituency, yet admired her rock solid family priorities, respected her religious views, recognized her acute skill in counting votes, and realized her prodigious talent as a legislative visionary.

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Pelosi won that race in the Caucus and later become Speaker Pelosi. She was successful shepherding the historic affordable health care legislation through Congress, recruiting candidates from both wings of the party to victories, and raising record levels of money and support for the national party. She intrinsically knows when to stand your ground and vigorously fight, and when to seek common ground for the country and work across the aisle. She has been highly effective at both approaches.

Even with all these accomplishments, she should not be crowned the next speaker, but have to earn it. She defeated my friend and fellow Midwesterner, Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanOn The Money: Trump touts China actions day after stock slide | China 'confident' on new trade deal | GM chief meets lawmakers to calm anger over cuts | Huawei CFO arrested GM chief meets lawmakers to calm anger over cuts GM lobbyists go into full crisis mode over layoffs MORE (D-Ohio) in the race in 2016 for minority leader. It was a fair contest fought out honorably between two great competitors. Yet today in the race for Speaker, it's not the entire Caucus deciding this race but a handful of members trying to prohibit her from the 218 votes on the House floor. It's a tiny fraction of the entire 435 members potentially stirring up chaos at a time when the House of Representatives needs to exert their constitutional power with the executive branch. Someone should have the courage to run directly against Mrs. Pelosi; not represent a small band of members disguised as a Trojan horse for reform. Reform and change are both vitally needed in the Congress. It's an archaic institution that neither the public nor the members trust anymore. Leader Pelosi and Rep Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) (the new Rules Committee chairman) are both currently working on a Rules Committee package that could lead to fundamental change. Proposals being considered include more open or modified rules for legislation on the floor, allowing all members to amend and impact bills. More power and involvement by committees rather that solely by leadership. And the creation of a Select Committee to make medium and long term recommendations to strengthen and improve the role of the legislative branch, as the founders intended. These procedural reforms would radically transform power from the top of the pyramid to the general membership.

I worked with Congresswoman Pelosi after the tragic attacks of 9/11 to create the 9/11 Commission, pass monumental legislation to make America safer from transnational threats, and serve on the Intelligence Committee to improve communication and sharing. She put unity and patriotism ahead of partisanship. When it came to war in Iraq, she fought adamantly against that strategic miscalculation. She deserved my vote back then. Today, Congress and the American people deserve a transparent and fair vote for speaker. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abigail Adams are watching.

Roemer served in Congress from 1991-2003 and is a former ambassador to India. He is also a former 9/11 Commissioner.