After months of speculation about her future, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said Thursday that she will not seek to lead House Democrats for another term but will remain in Congress.
The decision — which caps a 35-year career in which Pelosi became the most powerful woman in Congress in US history — came on the heels of her party’s loss of the House in last week’s midterm elections.
Pelosi is sticking to her 2018 agreement with fellow Democrats to step down from leadership by the end of 2022 to make room for younger leaders.
“For me, it is time for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus, which I deeply respect,” Pelosi said in a speech to the House of Representatives.
President Biden, who spoke with Pelosi on Thursday morning, later called her “the most important Speaker of the House in our history.”
“With her leading the way, you never worry about whether a bill will pass,” Biden said. “If she says she gets the votes, she has the votes. Every time.”
Pelosi is stepping down, the nation’s first and only female Speaker of the House, despite urging from many of her colleagues to stay.
She told a small group of reporters in an interview after her remarks that her phone had been “going off” in recent days as members told her she should run for leadership again.
And under Pelosi’s stewardship this year, House Democrats have defied expectations that the party will suffer heavy losses in the midterms. Instead, the Republicans gained a narrow majority in the House of Representatives.
“She will be one of the giants of American history,” said Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Mitchell).
Had Pelosi wanted to remain as House Minority Leader, she likely would have done so, despite the 2018 deal. But she said she felt “balanced” by her decision, not sad.
Although many Democrats previously expressed a desire for Pelosi, 82, to hand over the reins to younger lawmakers, her success in fighting the Trump administration and then aiding the Biden administration has since won over many of those critics.
She said in the interview that if she could have done anything differently during her presidency, she could have won more elections to keep Republicans, including former President Trump, out of power.
Pelosi said last month’s attack on her husband, Paul Pelosi, was a factor in her decision, but the incident also strengthened her resolve to stay in Congress rather than allow her opponents to oust her.
“I couldn’t give them that satisfaction,” she said.
Police said a man assaulted the speaker’s husband with a hammer and broke into their San Francisco home with the intent of harming her. She was in Washington at the time. Her husband is expected to face a long recovery period.
She said that one of the survivors feels guilty and that the attack was traumatic for her entire family.
She said, “This happened in our house.” “He made our home a crime scene.”
Democrats said her experience, knowledge, and fundraising skills will continue to be useful, even when she is no longer in a leadership position.
Representative Adam B. Schiff (Democrat Burbank): “It’s going to take all of us working together to make up for her loss of our leadership.” “And I’m sure she will continue to be very active in helping our party and helping our caucus. It’s not like she’s disappearing from Congress.”
But Pelosi downplayed any advisory role she might play, saying she rarely asks for advice as leader and would not be disappointed if her successors did not, too.
Comparing to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, she said, “I have no intention of being the mother-in-law of the kitchen,” saying, “My son doesn’t like stuffing that way.” This is how we make it. [The new House Democratic leaders] They will have their vision. They will have their plan, and I think the validity of all of that will be respected.”
She said she would not serve on a committee and was reluctant to return to the time-consuming fundraising process.
Rep. Emmanuelle Cleaver II (D) said Democrats should move quickly to fill her office.
“Whoever replaces her—and we’ve got some great people who can step up—they’re going to have to start practicing right away so they have the strength and energy to do what she did almost effortlessly,” Cleaver said.
“I’m not happy about it,” he said of Pelosi’s stepping down. “But like me, I think everyone — including the speaker — realizes at some point that our lifespan is limited. And I think you give everything you can and then try to live off the rest of your life.”
Life is as conflict-free as can be, and no one can blame her for leaving.”
The race to replace Pelosi happened quietly behind the scenes for months, but seemed to largely settle down shortly after her announcement. House Democrats will hold internal leadership elections on November 30.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D) favors becoming the next Democratic leader.
Pelosi’s top aides, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, 83, of Maryland, and Majority Whip James E. Claiborne, 82, of South Carolina, had previously expressed interest in succeeding her, but both said Thursday they would step down to lead. New. .
“I will support Jeffries as a captain,” said Claiburn.
Pelosi said she did not plan to endorse a successor, saying it would be important to her legitimacy that they win the office themselves.
“I don’t think it is up to me to make that palliative,” she said, “though I probably know better than anyone what that job requires.”
Schiff was reportedly interested in becoming a top Democrat but decided against it
Focusing instead on a potential Senate campaign. Democratic Senator from California, Diane
Feinstein has not said whether she will seek re-election in 2024. Schiff declined to comment for the report.
Retired Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) called Pelosi “perhaps the most outspoken and powerful woman in American politics,” and said “it will be very difficult to replace her, and to have that kind of leadership” again.
The speaker’s gavel is likely to go to another Californian – House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.
McCarthy became the frontrunner in the race after Republicans secured the minimum required 218 seats for a majority on Wednesday. Next speaker will be
He was chosen when the new conference convened in January.
Pelosi said that if McCarthy is elected, she will not formally hand him the gavel, because it passes from one leader to another, and by that time the Democrats will have elected her successor.
Pelosi has been called one of the most effective House Speakers in history. She has served as a spokesperson under every US president since George W. Bush.
It has pushed the most significant health care reform in generations, the Affordable Care Act of 2010, through the House of Representatives. She called the passage of the act, widely known as Obamacare, “the biggest thing [she’d] ever in Congress”, but added that this year’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act was also “extremely necessary and satisfying” for her.
Pelosi also led both impeachment proceedings against Trump. kept her caucus united to pass massive multi-billion dollar legislation to stabilize the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic; And it helped push through last year’s trillion-dollar infrastructure package.
Born into a prominent political family in Baltimore, Pelosi began her career as an elected official in 1987.
She was known in her early years in the House as a fierce advocate for a strong government response to HIV/AIDS, a topic that was at the time largely taboo or ignored, but hugely important to many of Pelosi’s gay San Francisco voters.
She was first elected to the leadership position in 2001, beating Hoyer to become minority whip. He remains her second in command. In 2003, she became the Minority Leader, the highest position possible in the House of Representatives without her party obtaining a majority.
After Democrats took control of the chamber in 2006, Pelosi was chosen in January 2007 as the first woman to speak in the House of Representatives.
Republicans have long capitalized on Pelosi’s fame, flooding the airwaves for years with hundreds of millions of dollars in attack ads that derided her as a “San Francisco liberal” and warned that other Democratic candidates would support her positions.
In her San Francisco-based district, Pelosi has consistently won re-election by large margins. She has raised $310 million for the Democrats this cycle and $1.28 billion since taking over the leadership in 2002.
Her ability to get under Republican skin has never been more evident than during the four years that Trump has been president. With her ability to annoy him, she gained a new generation of fans.
Pelosi made history again with his 2019 and 2021 impeachment proceedings, becoming the first speaker to preside over such proceedings twice.
Contributing Times staff writer Sarah D. Wire in this report.