Washington — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who made history as the first woman to serve in the role, will not seek another term as Democratic leader, she said Thursday, ending two decades as head of the Democratic caucus as the party prepares to relinquish his majority to the Republicans.
Pelosi will continue to serve in the House after winning a 19th term last weektake on a less prominent role when the next Congress convenes in January.
“Now we must boldly move into the future, based on the principles that have propelled us this far and be open to new possibilities for the future,” Pelosi said. “With great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek re-election as Democratic leadership in the next Congress. For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus.”
Pelosi began her speech by tracing her “from housewife to house speaker” pathas a 6-year-old to work with presidents of both parties. She called the Capitol a “temple of our democracy, of our Constitution, of our highest ideals,” paid tribute to the Americans who served before her, and praised the House’s historic legislative acts, including abolishing slavery and extending it to women of electoral authority.
“A new day is dawning on the horizon and I look forward, always forward, to the unfolding story of our nation,” she said. “A story of light and love, of patriotism and progress, of many becoming one, and always an unfinished mission to make today’s dreams tomorrow’s reality.”
Pelosi concluded her remarks with raucous applause from her Democratic colleagues, who hugged her as she left the lectern. President Biden spoke to Pelosi Thursday morning and congratulated her on her tenure, the White House said.
“When I think of Nancy Pelosi, I think of dignity,” the president said in a statement. “History will note that she is the most consistent speaker of the House of Representatives in our history. There are countless examples of how she embodies the obligation of elected officials to honor their oaths to God and the country to ensure that our democracy delivers and continues to be a beacon to the world. In everything she does, she reflects a dignity in her actions and a dignity she sees in the lives of the people of this nation.”
Pelosi’s decision to pave the way for a new generation of lawmakers to lead the caucus ends months of speculation about her political future. It also follows the violent attack on her husband Paul Pelosi last month at their San Francisco home, which the speaker said would affect CNN if she stepped aside. Pelosi himselfof the suspected assailant, but was in Washington at the time.
Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the current Majority Leader and Pelosi’s longtime No. 2, joins Pelosi in resigning from the Democratic leadership. Hoyer told his colleagues in a letter that he would remain in Congress but would forego a leadership position. His decision clears the way for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the chairman of the Democratic Caucus, to rise to party leader when Democratic members vote in leadership elections at the end of the month. Hoyer supported Jeffries in succeeding Pelosi as Democratic leader, calling him a “able and capable leader.”
Rep. South Carolina’s Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, hailed Pelosi as a leader who has left an “indelible mark” on Congress and the nation. He, too, offered his support in assisting a new generation of Democratic leaders, with names like Jeffries, Representative Katherine Clark of New York, and Representative Pete Aguilar of California.
“As a historic leader, she has risen to the challenges of leading this body through the best and worst of times,” Clyburn said of Pelosi. “Her steady hand, principled policy and unparalleled ability to build consensus among the most diverse caucus the country has ever known are hallmarks of her storied career.”
Dressed in a white suit, the color often worn by suffragists, Pelosi opened the House session prior to her speech and was applauded as she entered the House chamber. Dozens of Pelosi’s Democratic colleagues rallied for her remarks, as did Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson nodded to Pelosi as he concluded brief remarks on the House floor before her speech, saying, “Godspeed, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”
It was unclear Thursday what decision Pelosi had made, and her choice had been the source of speculation in Washington for months. She took home two versions of her speech to review Wednesday night, a source familiar with the matter said, an indication she was still wrestling with the choice.
Since her election to Congress in 1987, Pelosi rose through the ranks of the House Democratic leadership, serving as a minority whip—her election to that position made Pelosi the highest-ranking woman in congressional history—and then Democratic leader of the House, a role she fulfilled. since 2003.
In 2007, she made history as the first woman elected Speaker of the House when the Democrats won the majority. She has since served as speaker for four non-consecutive terms, uniting an often troublesome Democratic caucus to pass some of the most sweeping legislation in recent history under the Obama and Biden administrations.
Mr. Biden paid tribute to Pelosi’s track record of pushing Democratic priorities forward through the House, characterizing her as a force that secured the support needed to advance her party’s legislative agenda.
“With her leading the way, you never have to worry about whether a bill will pass,” the president said. “If she says she’s got the votes, she’s got the votes. Every time.”
For Republicans, her unabashed pursuit of liberal priorities made her a handy foil on the campaign trail, and GOP candidates have made her a regular fixture of attack ads for years. She was one of former President Donald Trump’s fiercest opponents and oversaw both houses’ impeachment proceedings against him. Their broken relationship was memorably on display following Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address, after which Pelosi tore up a copy of his remarks.
And on Thursday, when she highlighted the legislative achievements of Bush, Obama and Mr. Biden, the 45th president was not named.
In her remarks, Pelosi reflected on the changing demographics of House membership over her more than three decades in Congress, highlighting the increase in women serving but noting that “we want more.”
“I’ve seen this body become more reflective of our great nation, our beautiful nation,” she said.
While Pelosi said in 2018 she would limit her term as Democratic leader to four years, a pledge that appeased enough members of her party to secure the gavel again, she was forced to reconsider after the “red wave” expected for Republicans. did not happen.
The speaker told CNN on Sunday that her Democratic colleagues had asked her to “consider” running in caucus leadership elections, which begin at the end of the month, but she said any decision to do so would be subject to change. do “will be rooted in the wishes of my family and the wishes of my caucus.”
Mr. Biden also asked Pelosi to stay in office, telling the California Democrat after winning her own reelection, “I hope you stay,” according to Politico.