Nancy Pelosi has announced she will not seek another term as top Democrat in the US House of Representatives, leaving the position nearly two decades after her party lost a majority in the midterm elections.
Pelosi’s decision paves the way for a contest later this month to replace her, potentially ushering in a new generation of lawmakers to lead the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives.
Pelosi, who is 82, said she will not leave Congress entirely but will continue to take her seat in the San Francisco House of Representatives.
“For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic faction that I respect so much,” Pelosi said. “And I’m grateful that so many are ready and willing to take on this great responsibility.”
Pelosi has been a pre-eminent figure in American politics, having become the first woman to lead a major party in Congress in 2003 and becoming the first woman to become Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2007.
She is known for effectively commanding the various factions of the Democratic Party, being an amazing fundraiser, and pushing large and often controversial legislation through the House, whether her party controls the White House or not.
During the financial crisis under George W. Bush, she was instrumental in approving Wall Street’s bailout plan, while under Barack Obama she steered his landmark health-care reform despite fierce opposition.
During Donald Trump’s administration, she endorsed multi-trillion-dollar Covid-19 stimulus legislation and most recently helped Joe Biden implement his sweeping legislative agenda, from climate protection and infrastructure to chip subsidies and gun control.
While revered by many Democrats, she has become a lightning rod for poison by Republicans and conservatives as a symbol of liberal coastal politics, which they reject and even despise.
Pelosi is set to step down as Democratic House leader after her party fared much better than expected in this month’s midterm elections. While Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives, they did so by a much smaller margin than expected.
Ten days before the late October election, her husband Paul Pelosi was attacked at their San Francisco home by David DePape, a 42-year-old intruder, who asked, “Where’s Nancy?” before hitting her husband. DePape has pleaded guilty after being charged with assault and attempted kidnapping.
During her speech on Thursday, Pelosi, who led the two impeachment trials against Trump and the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, repeatedly spoke about the importance of defending American democracy.
“American democracy is majestic but fragile. . . Democracy must forever be defended from forces that seek to harm it,” Pelosi said. She added that in the midterm elections, when many Trump-backed deniers of Biden’s victory in the 2020 White House were defeated by Democrats, American voters “proved all night that our flag was still there” — referring to a verse from the US national anthem.
On Thursday morning, Biden called Pelosi to congratulate her “on her historic tenure as Speaker of the House,” the White House said, and he later issued a statement. “Thanks to Nancy Pelosi, the lives of millions and millions of Americans are better, even in districts represented by Republicans who have voted against their bills and slandered them all too often. This is Nancy — she’s always working for the dignity of all people,” Biden said.
Hakeem Jeffries, 52, the New York lawmaker and chair of the House Democratic Caucus, has long been viewed as a likely successor to Pelosi and the front-runner should she step down.
Throughout her career, Pelosi has been a major player in US foreign policy, with the protection of human rights around the world being one of her primary concerns. That year, she stoked controversy and tensions with China after visiting Taiwan for the first time since 1997 by a speaker of the House of Representatives.
https://www.ft.com/content/7d2696d4-900a-472d-ae8e-c0b8d4ac1b77 Nancy Pelosi is stepping down as the House Democrat