Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to hold the top role in the US House of Representatives, said Thursday that she will step down from the party leadership to make way for “a new generation” but will remain in Congress.
Republicans will take control of the chamber in January after securing a narrow majority on Wednesday. Democrats remain in control of the Senate.
“For me, the time has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I respect so deeply,” said Pelosi, 82, who first became speaker in 2007 and later presided over both impeachment hearings against Donald Trump.
“I will not seek re-election to the Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” the California Democrat told lawmakers in a speech on the House floor.
Pelosi’s departure as party leader will mark the end of an era in Washington.
Elected to Congress in 1987, she only became speaker in 2007. She was known for keeping a firm grip on party leaders and presided over both impeachments of Donald Trump during her second term in the role.
Pelosi, who is currently President Joe Biden’s second in line to the vice president, said last week that her decision about the future would be affected by the brutal attack on her elderly husband ahead of the Nov. 8 midterms.
Paul Pelosi, who is also 82, was left in hospital with serious injuries after an intruder – possibly looking for the speaker – broke into their San Francisco home and attacked him with a hammer.Life after midterms
Pelosi said she would continue to represent her San Francisco district in the next Congress and praised Democrats’ better-than-expected performance in the midterm contest.
“Last week, the American people spoke and their voices were raised to defend freedom, the rule of law and democracy itself,” she said. “The people stood in the gap and beat back the attack on democracy.”
In a statement earlier this week, she said that “House Democrats will continue to play a leading role in supporting President Biden’s agenda — with strong leverage over a narrow Republican majority.”
With inflation rising and Biden’s popularity ratings cratering, Republicans had hoped to take control of both houses to block most of Biden’s legislative plans.
But instead, Democratic and independent voters—galvanized by the Supreme Court’s repeal of abortion rights and wary of Trump-backed candidates openly rejecting the results of the 2020 presidential election—turned out in force.
And Republicans lost ground with candidates rejected by voters as too extreme.
Biden’s party secured an unassailable majority in the 50-seat upper chamber plus Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote and a December Senate runoff in Georgia could still see Democrats improve their majority to 51 in the upper house.
The Senate oversees the confirmation of federal judges and cabinet members, and having the 100-seat body in his corner will be a huge boon for Biden.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and Reuters)