During the first day of the new session in Washington D.C., veteran San Francisco Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-California) earned her fourth term as the Speaker of the House, edging out runner-up Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-California) by seven votes. Leading the 117th Congress, Pelosi will serve as Speaker until 2023.
“It gives (me) great pride to serve as speaker of the most diverse House of Representatives in the history of our country,” said Pelosi in her brief acceptance speech. “Our most urgent priority will continue to be defeating the coronavirus — and defeat it we will.”
The first woman to serve as speaker, Pelosi led from 2006-2011, with her third term coming in 2018 when Democrats regained the House. She received 216 votes while McCarthy earned 209 votes.
After losing a dozen seats during the last election cycle in the House amidst a red wave, Pelosi needed every vote she could get to retain the position/, especially once she lost a few Democrats’ votes. Reps. Jared Golden (D-Maine) and Connor Lamb (D-Pennsylvania) cast support for Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York), respectively, while Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-New Jersey), Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan), and Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia) voted present.
“In a time marked by historically low trust in our government, new voices are necessary to moving forward and achieving real progress,” said Spanberger in a statement.
Despite their vocal criticism towards Pelosi, every member of the progressive “Squad” cast their vote for her. In December, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) told the Intercepted podcast she believed the Democratic Party was in desperate need of new leadership, calling to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, provided no alternative options for their position.
Likely her final term, Pelosi indicated in 2018 that she would step down after two terms. When asked how long she planned to occupy the role, she stated, “there was a move to put limits on the leadership and the chairs of committees. They said they were going to do it, they didn’t do it. But what I said then was whether it passes or not, I will abide by those limits. I can’t wait to be working with Joe Biden. … I don’t want to undermine any leverage I may have, but I made the statement.”
With the position up for grabs, the 2022 mid-terms will likely see Republicans harness the issue to energize voters against struggling House Democrats.