UNITED STATES: Washington: Nancy Pelosi, the outspoken and trailblazing Democrat who, as the first woman U.S. House of Representatives speaker, spearheaded landmark legislation and two impeachments, announced on Thursday that she would be stepping down from her leadership role after Republicans gained control of the Chamber.
Pelosi’s allies quickly rallied around leading Representative Hakeem Jeffries as her likely successor for the role of top House Democrat. At the same time, Republicans are prepared to station a speaker from their own party who is expected to hinder President Biden’s legislative agenda. Her replacement has a tough job ahead- to unite the warring factions of Democrats and Republicans.
Pelosi made her final speech on the House floor- while cheering applause from Democrats even as many Republicans decided to steer clear. She declared she would not retire from the House but continues to represent her ward of San Francisco as she has done for the last 35 years.
“For me, the hour’s come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect. And I’m grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility,” said Pelosi.
Pelosi’s speech turned highly personal when she mentioned her childhood years, coming into the “sacred ground” of the Capitol when she was merely a young child.
“American democracy is majestic, but it is fragile. Many of us here have witnessed our fragility firsthand, tragically, in this chamber. And so democracy must be forever defended from forces that wish it harm,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi has served as the top House Democrat for two decades and speaker from 2007-2011 and again from 2011 till the present.
Pelosi’s legacy marks the ratification of President Barack Obama’s legendary 2010 healthcare law as well as extensions of infrastructure and climate budget and gun restrictions under Biden. She also presided as the House impeached Republican President Donald Trump in 2019 and 2021.
In a statement, Biden lauded Pelosi as “the most consequential speaker of the House of Representatives in our history.”
Following last week’s midterm elections, Republicans secured a razor-thin majority in the House and are on course to elect Kevin McCarthy, who is on icy terms with Pelosi.
Meanwhile, Democrats retained control of the Senate. With divided leadership in Congress, the administration might find it tough to pass legislation like government funding. Republicans said they would launch investigative probes into Biden’s administration and his family.
Moreover, Pelosi’s professional maturity in American governance has been seen by many young Democrats as a cause for resignation to usher in a new era of blossoming, youthful leaders to lead the new tomorrow. There are fresh, new recruits on the line- from Jeffries to 59-year-old Katherine Clark and Pete Aguilar, 43.
“It’s pretty much general agreement about the next leaders. I know all of them, they’ll do a good job,” Representative Bennie Thompson told reporters.