Nancy Pelosi says she will be Leader of House Democrats

(Bloomberg) — Nancy Pelosi announced she will step down as the Democratic leader of the House, ending her historic tenure as the first woman to serve as speaker and paving the way for a generational change in her party’s congress leadership.

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“I will not seek re-election to the Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” Pelosi said Thursday on the House floor. She plans to remain in the House representing her San Francisco district.

Pelosi, 82, is leaving her post as Republicans prepare to take control of the House in January after the midterm elections. She has led House Democrats for nearly two decades, including two stretches as speaker under four presidents.

A fierce legislative tactician and prolific fundraiser, Pelosi was instrumental in delivering signature achievements for Democratic presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden. as an excellent villain of the political right.

New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries, 52, is widely considered Pelosi’s heir apparent. He would be the first African-American to lead a party in Congress. Jeffries has been the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus since 2019. He has also taken on other leadership roles, most notably as one of seven House managers in the first impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Democrats were backing Jeffries to take the top leadership job.

Representative Joyce Beatty of Ohio, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said she expects the group to rally behind Jeffries.

Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island said Jeffries has “shown great talent.”

Other Democrats expected to seek leadership roles include Massachusetts Representative Katherine Clark, 59, who is the No. 1 Democrat. 4 House, and California Representative Pete Aguilar. Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, 57, chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also said she may seek a leadership position.

Pelosi’s departure prompted broader changes for House Democrats, who were led by three octogenarians.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, 83, said in a statement that he would not seek a leadership position in the next Congress, but would remain a representative from Maryland. Majority Leader James Clyburn, 82, said he would support Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar for the top spots.

Biden spoke with Pelosi earlier in the day to congratulate her on her historic run as House speaker, according to the White House.

Pelosi’s decision was determined. Her spokesman tried to downplay reports that she was planning to do so, and several senior lawmakers said before she appeared on the House floor that they did not know what Pelosi would do.

Wearing white, in tribute to the women’s suffrage movement, Pelosi drew applause and cheers from Democrats as she opened the session. After a series of short speeches from other lawyers on a wide range of topics, Pelosi took the floor.

She remembered seeing the Capitol for the first time as a child while driving to Washington with her family after her father was elected to represent a district in Baltimore.

“I believe then as I believe today, that this is the most beautiful building in the world because of what it represents,” Pelosi said. “The Capitol is a temple to our democracy, to our Constitution, to our highest ideals.”

Members of both parties paid tribute to Pelosi.

“She is one of the giants in American history,” said Michigan Democratic Representative Debbie Dingell. “She is tough, she listens, she delivers.”

Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, said Pelosi is a partisan speaker, but a “very effective” speaker.

Pelosi’s view among House Republicans is “from respect to respect,” he said. “It’s like appreciating the best player on the team you hate.”

Much of the push for change came from Democrats elected in the 2018 midterms who returned control of Congress to Democrats and the speakership to Pelosi after eight years in the minority.

Pelosi accepted term-limit demands from factions within her caucus when she won the speakership again in 2019 and vowed not to seek a leadership post beyond the current congressional term. However, she had recently raised questions about whether she intended to keep that promise.

Representative Dean Phillips, a Minnesota Democrat elected in the 2018 wave, said Pelosi’s departure from the leadership “absolutely” creates an opening for changes to caucus rules that he and relatively new members are pushing.

“I think we have a great opportunity now to make some of those changes happen, which is not only for the good of this caucus, but for the good of Congress and the country,” Phillips said. “We are all looking for more opportunities for participation, mechanisms for more voices to be heard, more opportunities for the next generation of leaders to step up and for this institution to function more effectively, more efficiently and more quickly. “

–With assistance from Zach C. Cohen.

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