Nancy Pelosi, first woman to serve as speaker of the U.S. House, steps down from leadership

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 17: U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) delivers remarks from the House Chambers of the U.S. Capitol Building on November 17, 2022 in Washington, DC. Pelosi spoke on the future of her leadership plans in the House of Representatives. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who became the first woman in history to hold the gavel, shepherding landmark bills across four presidencies, announced Thursday she’ll step aside from leadership though she’ll remain in Congress.

“With great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” she said in remarks on the floor of the House. “For me, the hour has 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.”

Pelosi, who wore a winter-white pantsuit in a nod to suffragettes and other key moments throughout her own political career, announced her retirement from leadership during a 15-minute speech just after the House met at noon with the chamber full of Democratic members and several Republicans. She has served as Democrats’ leader while they were in both the minority and majority for 19 years.

House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, who has served for years alongside Pelosi, also announced he’d leave leadership but remain in Congress, heading back to the Appropriations Committee, which controls discretionary government spending to the tune of about $1.5 trillion a year.

Hoyer said he would back New York Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Caucus chairman, for Democratic leader. Jeffries, 52, would represent a new generation taking over leadership.

‘No greater honor’

Pelosi in her speech said that no matter how many titles she’s received over the years — speaker, leader, whip — “there is no greater official honor for me than to stand on this floor and to speak for the people of San Francisco.”

“This I will continue to do as a member of the House, speaking for the people of San Francisco, serving the great state of California and defending our Constitution,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi’s announcement came just weeks after a man broke into the San Francisco home she shares with her husband and attacked him with a hammer while she was in Washington, D.C. The suspect, who faces state and federal criminal charges, said during the incident he was searching for Pelosi, similar to insurrectionists in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol who went looking for her.

Pelosi said Thursday that she was grateful for the outpouring of support following the attack on her husband, saying he “has been my beloved partner in life and my pillar of support.”

“We’re all grateful for all the prayers and well wishes as he continues his recovery. Thank you so much,” she said, before getting a round of applause. Read more

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