House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is stepping down as the House Democratic leadership but will remain in Congress.
The 82-year-old Pelosi announced this in a dramatic speech after the parliamentary session on Thursday, receiving a warm ovation from her colleagues.
“With great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek re-election as a Democratic leader in the next Congress,” Pelosi said, noting that she will continue to represent her California district as she has for 35 years. “The hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I have great respect for.”
The first woman to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pelosi is the Democratic Party’s longest-serving Speaker of the House. Her decision will have a significant impact on Democrats in their new House minority position.
Pelosi’s fellow California delegation sat at the front of the chamber when the announcement was made.
The potential next generation of House Democratic leaders — Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Pete Aguilar, Katherine Clark, and Pelosi’s current team of Reps. James Cliburn and Steny Hoyer — all sat together in the chamber, joined by the Senate. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Not many Republicans were there to hear her speak in person. Conspicuously absent was House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who celebrated his party’s control of the House Wednesday night, telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity: “We’ve fired Nancy Pelosi.”
Pelosi began her speech with a ode to the Capitol itself, describing how she first saw it as a young woman, accompanying her father, the late Maryland Rep. Thomas D’Alessandro Jr., to his swearing-in ceremony.
“This is the most beautiful building in the world because of what it represents,” Pelosi said. “The Capitol is the temple of our democracy, our Constitution and our highest ideals.”
“When I first hit the floor at age 6, I never thought I would go from being a housewife to being the speaker of the house,” she said.
Pelosi reflected on her time working with “three presidents”: George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, without specifically mentioning former President Donald Trump.
She noted the increase in electoral diversity over the years, noting that when she first came to Congress in the 1990s, there were only 12 Democratic women in the group. Today she said she is over 90.
“And we want more,” she said, to another standing ovation.
Pelosi has long been a fundraising powerhouse — her House Majority PAC raised nearly $160 million for Democratic candidates this cycle — and is known for her legislative prowess in pushing bills like the Affordable Care Act and the Inflation Reduction Act through Congress.
This meant she was a frequent target of the Republican Party. McCarthy once joked that he wanted to hit Pelosi with an oversized speakerphone, but more threatening comments about Pelosi have spread among conservatives. Before entering Congress, Rep. Major Taylor Greene had expressed her support for news of the execution of prominent Democrats, including Pelosi.
Pelosi’s spokeswoman Drew Hamill said Wednesday she plans to make remarks about her political future, just hours after ABC News predicted Republicans had officially won majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives, ending a four-year Democratic majority despite the strong midterms. party.
In her speech, Pelosi warned that the Jan. 6 uprising showed that democracy is still fragile and therefore “must be forever defended.”
And despite losing the House, Pelosi said the midterm elections showed that Americans “strongly rejected violence and rebellion and, in doing so, proved throughout the night that our flag is still there.”
“And now we owe it to the American people to do everything we can to live out their faith to achieve a fuller union forever, the glorious horizon promised by our founding fathers,” she said.
A source told ABC News congressional correspondent Rachel Scott that Pelosi took home two different versions of the speech Wednesday night. Dressed in white and flanked by her top aides, Pelosi did not answer questions about her political future when she arrived at the Capitol Thursday morning.
Pelosi said the attack on her husband, Paul, would affect her decision to stay on as House leader beyond the midterms. On Thursday, she took a moment to thank and praise her husband as “my beloved partner in life and my pillar of support.”
Ahead of the attack, several members have called for a younger generation of democratic leadership. The top three Democrats in the House are 80 years old.
While it’s unclear who exactly will replace Pelosi, she addressed the next generation of leaders Thursday, saying she was “grateful that so many are ready and willing to take on this great responsibility.”
Among the top contenders for the post are Jeffrey of New York for speaker, Clark of Massachusetts for minority whip and Rep. Pete Aguilar of California expected to be caucus chairman.
The current two other top leaders in the Democratic caucus, Hoyer and Clyburn, are stepping down from their roles. Leadership elections are scheduled for the end of November.
President Joe Biden issued a lengthy statement immediately after the speech ended by describing Pelosi’s career with praise and praise for her “dignity.”
“Millions and millions of Americans are better off because of Nancy Pelosi,” Biden said, “even in districts represented by Republicans who voted against her bills and revile her too often.”
“History will mark her as the greatest speaker of the House of Representatives in our history,” the president said. “There are countless examples of how she embodies the duty of elected officials to uphold their oaths to God and country to ensure that our democracy serves and remains a beacon to the world.”