Nancy Pelosi Steps Down as Democratic Leader After Two Decades in Power

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday she would step down from her post as House Democratic Leader after nearly two decades in power.


Summary

Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives, announced Thursday she would step down from her post as House Democratic Leader after nearly two decades in power.

  • Pelosi announced her decision in a speech delivered on the floor of the House, one day after major news organizations projected Republicans would take control of the House of Representatives.
  • President Joe Biden praised Pelosi as “the most consequential Speaker of the House of Representatives in our history” in a statement. Biden listed the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the passage of his legislative priorities like the American Rescue Plan and the infrastructure law as some of Pelosi’s major accomplishments.
  • Nancy Pelosi took over as House Democratic Leader in 2003 and has ruled her party with an iron grip for nearly two decades. She assumed the speakership in 2007 after the Democrats’ landslide victory in the 2006 midterms, lost her gavel after the 2010 elections only to return as Speaker in 2019 after Democrats retook control in the 2018 midterm elections.
  • Maryland’s Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader and Pelosi’s longtime deputy, will also step down from his leadership role. Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the House Majority Whip and No. 3 House Democrat, will instead seek the lower leadership post of Assistant Democratic Leader.
  • Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York is expected to take over as House Minority Leader, making him the first African American to lead a party caucus in Congress. Jeffries and likely House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have “no relationship to speak of” and have been “outwardly hostile to each other.”
  • Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts is expected to ascend to Minority Whip, the No. 2 position in House Democratic Leadership, while California Rep. Pete Aguilar will take on the No. 3 role as Democratic Caucus Chair.
  • Pelosi plans to remain in the House to help guide the next generation of Democratic leaders. Her decision to stay instead of resigning like her recent predecessors, Speakers Newt Gingrich and Dennis Hastert, averts a hotly anticipated special election for her San Francisco House seat.
  • Left-wing state senator Scott Weiner and Pelosi’s daughter Christine Pelosi were reportedly preparing campaigns to succeed Pelosi, who has represented San Francisco in Congress since winning a special election in 1987.

 

reporting from the left side of the aisle

 

  • CNN noted Pelosi did not say who she would support to succeed her as House Democratic Leader, but she does plan on serving as an “adviser” to whoever steps into her shoes.
  • The Washington Post said Pelosi’s career is “widely seen as setting the standard for wielding political power,” citing historians who argue she redefined the speakership during her tenure. The Post wrote Pelosi “earned a reputation for amassing power in the face of male colleagues who at times undermined her opinions.”
  • The New York Times charted her career from challenging Republican Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump to pushing Democrats’ legislative agenda through the House. She considered the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 “her greatest legislative achievement.”

 

 

  • Breitbart celebrated the end of “Swamp Queen” Pelosi’s generation-spanning “reign.” “The hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic Caucus that I greatly respect,” Pelosi said on the House floor.
  • The Washington Examiner reported senior Republican leadership largely skipped Pelosi’s speech. Only House Minority Whip Steve Scalise was in attendance, along with a smattering of backbench House Republicans.
  • The Wall Street Journal recalled Pelosi’s many clashes with then-President Donald Trump, including the moment she tore up his State of the Union address. The Journal also noted Pelosi’s status as the first Speaker to lose and regain her post in more than 60 years.

 


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© Dominic Moore, 2022