House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was re-elected as the leader of the Democrats on Wednesday and while she hinted this would be her final term, she refused to say so definitively.
The Democratic caucus held virtual elections due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis – and Pelosi ran unopposed.
She’ll need to secure a majority on the House floor after the new Congress is sworn-in in January to make her speakership official, but Democrats have more members than the Republicans.
When asked if she’d honor the commitment she made when taking over the speaker’s gavel in January 2017 – that she would only serve four years – Pelosi said she didn’t want to ‘undermine any leverage I may have.’
‘But I made the statement,’ she added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addresses reporters after being re-elected to the top leadership position in the Democratic House caucus
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (center) addresses reporters Wednesday surrounded by Democratic leadership (from left) Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (center) and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (right) all addressed the press after the top leadership positions were decided by House Democrats
‘My husband is listening, don’t let me have to be more specific than that because we never expected to have another term now,’ Pelosi also said. ‘I consider this a gift.’
‘And I can’t wait to be working with Joe Biden and preparing for our transition into the future,’ the speaker added.
She and other members of the Democratic leadership impressed upon reporters that the caucus was unified – despite reports of infighting between moderates and progressives after Democrats lost purple district seats.
‘I wish that you could have seen the nomination and the acceptance speeches. Because then you could have seen the common thread, the unity, of our caucus,’ Pelosi told reporters afterward.
She said she was ‘very honored.’
‘I was kind of emotional earlier because of some of things that were said in nomination, but also listening to the other nominations as well,’ she continued.
She briefly choked up, as she talked how the Democrats had the House – and the White House.
‘I’m thrilled, I’m excited and I can’t wait to be … working with a new president of the United States, Joe Biden, and Kamala Harris,’ Pelosi said. ‘I’m sure we all share that view.’
The House Democrats announced via Twitter Wednesday morning that Pelosi was again elected to be their ‘fearless leader’
Pelosi was re-elected alongside House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts beat Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island to become assistant speaker.
Pelosi stood alongside Hoyer, Clyburn, Clark and the No. 5 Democrat, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, at a Capitol Hill press conference after the results were tallied.
Jeffries had a long-winded introduction for Pelosi.
‘It is now my distinct honor and privilege to introduce Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a voice for the voiceless, a defender of the disenfranchised, a legendary legislator, a notorious negotiator and a powerful, profound, prophetic, principled public servant,’ Jeffries said.
More Democratic leadership races will be held Thursday.
‘Congratulations to @SpeakerPelosi, once again elected by House Democrats to be our fearless leader and nominee for Speaker of the House for the 117th Congress!’ a Wednesday morning tweet from the House Democrats’ account read.
It used the hashtags ‘DownWithNDP’ for Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi and ‘ForThePeople,’ the name for the Democrats’ agenda.
This will be her fourth term serving as speaker of the House.
She made history in 2007, becoming the country’s first female speaker, and then was succeeded by John Boehner in 2011, when the Democrats lost the majority after the 2010 midterm elections.
She led the House Democrats during the years they were in the minority and took back the speaker’s gavel in 2019, when Democrats retook the majority.
There was some question, then, of whether she should stay in charge – and several new lawmakers from purple districts voted against her.
Pelosi took flak after the 2020 election, too, after her caucus lost seats – instead of gaining them, like top Democrats had expected.
On a post-election call with members, which was live-tweeted by members of the press, Pelosi pushed back when one moderate member, Rep. Abigail Spanberger, called the election a ‘failure.’
‘We need to be pretty clear,’ the Virginia Democrat said, according to Politico. ‘It was a failure. It was not a success. We lost incredible members of Congress.’
‘No one should say “defund the police” ever again,’ Spanberger continued. ‘Nobody should be talking about socialism.’
She warned the Democrats ‘will get f***ing torn apart’ in 2022 if that messaging continues.
The phrase ‘defund the police’ became a call on the activist left, but even some of the most progressive lawmakers didn’t back it.
Still, Republicans were able to paint Democrats as radicals in purple districts, causing them to lose.