House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – who shattered the “marble ceiling” to become the first female speaker of the US House of Representatives – announced Thursday that she is stepping down from the party leadership.
“With great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek re-election to Democratic leadership in the next Congress. For me, it is time for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus, which I deeply respect,” Pelosi said in a speech at the convention. house floor. “I am grateful that so many are ready and willing to take on this tremendous responsibility.”
Pelosi said she will continue to represent her San Francisco district in the House of Representatives.
In her remarks, Pelosi warned that democracy is “majestic but fragile” and said that voters in 2022 have sent a message to Congress that they will not support those who support violence or disobedience. She also praised Chamber for becoming more diverse over the course of her 35-year career. When I first entered Congress in 1987, there were 12 women in the Democratic caucus and now there are 90. “And we want more,” she said to applause.
Her decision comes a day after Republicans officially took control of the room in the 2022 midterm elections, and three weeks after her husband, Paul, was violently assaulted at their San Francisco home.
The Republican Party is expected to have a very slim majority after the “red wave” that did not materialize on Election Day. The Democrats defied historical expectations and performed better than expected in the Conservative, Senate and House elections.
Her decision came as no surprise on Capitol Hill, and is in line with a promise she made four years ago to limit self-terms after Democrats won a majority in 2018 and became the first speaker since legend Sam Rayburn to claim a speaker twice. There has been a quiet desire among rank-and-file Democrats to elect a younger slate of leaders to replace Pelosi, who is 82, and the other two House Democratic leaders, Rep. Steny Hoyer and Rep. Jim Claiburn, D-S.C., who are also in their 80s.
After Pelosi’s announcement, Hoyer, who is currently the House Majority Leader, said he would not run for a leadership position in the next Congress.
“Now is the time for a new generation of leaders,” Hoyer said in a statement, adding that he would support Democratic Representative Hakeem Jeffries.
House Democrats will hold a leadership election at the end of the month, and Pelosi’s announcement will likely set off a flurry of announcements for leadership nominations.
Topping the list are Jeffries from New York, Kathryn Clark from Massachusetts, and Pete Aguilar from California. The three work in lower-level leadership roles now and are interested in moving up the ladder. Jeffries, 52, Clark, 59, and Aguilar, 43, will make an African American, a white woman, and a Hispanic woman the new faces of the party. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is also considering a leadership bid. Fellow Californians Amy Berra and Tony Cardenas have already announced campaigns to run the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democrats’ campaign arm, for the 2024 election.
Pelosi will be hard to follow
Even those who previously clashed with Pelosi praised her record for guiding her often fractious caucus through difficult times, with little room for error. With a majority of just 5 seats, the Speaker has helped his muscles with President Biden’s legislative accomplishments — a pandemic aid bill, a bipartisan infrastructure bill, legislation boosting semiconductor chip production, a measure to lower prescription drug costs and investment in climate programs.
“I’ve been elected for 26 years. I’ve been doing this for a while. I think she’s been the most effective speaker and leader I’ve ever had in the House,” Cardenas said after Pelosi’s speech. “Every moment for me has been a blessing and an honor to serve with.”
Representative Debbie Dingell called Pelosi “one of the giants of American history” and said she “opened doors wider for each of us women.”
She also praised Pelosi’s toughness as a political negotiator.
“[She] knew when to lower the gavel,” Dingell said. “Fortunately the hammer didn’t come down on my head too often.”
Biden and Pelosi spoke Thursday morning, according to the White House, and the president congratulated her on her historic term, which he noted took place over four terms: “I know because I’ve seen her work through my career as a senator,” Biden said in a statement following her announcement as “Vice President and now as Chair.” “.
“Because of Nancy Pelosi, the lives of millions and millions of Americans are better, even in the districts represented by Republicans who voted against and often vilify her bills,” the statement read. “This is Nancy – always working for the dignity of all people.”
When she first took the gavel in the House chamber in 2007, she surrounded herself with kids — including some of her grandchildren — on the floor. Throughout her tenure, she has said repeatedly that her focus is on enacting progressive policies in health care, child care, and climate change, all guided by the slogan “For Kids.” She went on to serve as Minority Leader when the Republicans took control of the House in 2010 and made history in 2019 when she was elected Speaker again. Drew Hamill, Pelosi’s longtime spokesperson has regularly answered questions about her future in recent years, saying the spokesperson is “not on shift, but on assignment.”