Nancy Pelosi resigns from the Democratic leadership of the US House of Representatives
- Sam Cabral
- BBC Washington
Nancy Pelosi has announced that she is stepping down from the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives, a position she has held for nearly two decades.
The 82-year-old woman is the most powerful Democratic member of Congress and the first woman to hold the post of Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Pelosi will continue to represent her California district in the House of Representatives.
The move comes at a time when Republicans regained control of the House after the midterm elections.
Republican Kevin McCarthy won his party’s nomination for Speaker of the House in the new Congress and is likely to succeed Pelosi.
Pelosi said in a statement: “I never thought I would go from being a housewife to Speaker of the House. I will not seek re-election as the Democratic leader in the next Congress. It’s time for a new generation to take the lead in the Democratic Group.”
Pelosi will chair the House of Representatives until next January, when the new Congress convenes, and will remain in her seat, which she has won since 1987, until January 2025.
New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries is widely expected to take the top Democratic leadership position in the House of Representatives, making him the first black leader in Congress in US history.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives is the only position in Congress listed in the United States Constitution. After the Vice President, in emergencies, this position comes in order of presidency.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, his alternates and the Chairmen of the committees determine the bills to be considered and voted on. They set the agenda and set the rules for the discussion.
Pelosi became Minority Leader in 2003 – the title given to the person leading the opposition in the House of Representatives. Then, in 2006, Democrats regained control of the House for the first time in more than a decade, and she became the first woman to lead a major party in one of the chambers of Congress.
Pelosi became minority leader again four years later, but returned to the Speaker’s seat in 2018.
Analysis by Anthony Zurcher – BBC North America Correspondent
Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to lead a major party in both houses of Congress, will go down in history as one of the most effective figures, an invaluable asset to Democrats and a formidable opponent to Republicans.
Her legislative acumen, ability to hold a fractured party together when it matters most, and instinct for the political arena have made her a force on Capitol Hill and a lightning rod against her critics.
She wasn’t the flamboyant Democratic leader on TV, her speeches and press conferences were hardly inspirational, but her ability to hold together her tiny and divided majority in the room has earned her some rivals.
Her political instincts have always been sound, and her grasp of the timing of legislation—when to pay, when to wait, and what it takes to win a vote—impeccable. And this at a time when House leaders had incentives like earmarked spending authorizations to keep recalcitrant backbenchers in line.
During the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots, supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in search of the Speaker and were filmed vandalizing and entering her office.
The duration and depth of their grip on House Democrats, spanning more than two decades, has stunted the growth of young leaders within the chamber who have waited years for their chance to climb the party’s leadership structure. Now they could finally get their chance. But they will have a huge gap to fill.
As Speaker of the House, Pelosi has played a crucial role in advancing — or thwarting — many presidents’ plans.
She is widely credited with orchestrating the passage of former President Barack Obama’s healthcare legislation, as well as bills to address infrastructure and climate change under current President Joe Biden.
Pelosi has also directly challenged Donald Trump throughout his presidency, famously tearing up a copy of his State of the Union address while standing before her in Congress.
John Lawrence, Pelosi’s chief of staff, told the BBC he expected her to play an important role in advising new congressmen and working with the White House now that Democrats are back in the minority.
He added: “There’s never a good time to leave. When you’re going up you want to achieve a lot and when things are going against you you want to fight back.”
In a statement Thursday, President Biden called Pelosi “the most important House Speaker in our history.”
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