US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, speaks in the House Chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.
Ting Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday she will not seek reelection to her congressional leadership role, ending a two-decade streak as the top House Democrat that saw her become the first woman to lead the chamber.
Pelosi, speaking on the House floor, said she will remain a member of Congress and serve out the term to which she was just elected.
“With great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” Pelosi said between rounds of applause throughout the 14-minute speech.
“For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic Congress that I so deeply respect,” Pelosi said. “And I am grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility.”
The announcement came a day after news outlets projected that Democrats would narrowly lose their House majority to Republicans following the midterm elections.
Pelosi, 82, has kept her future plans under wraps in the aftermath of the midterms, when Democrats exceeded expectations up and down the ballot. Republicans, who anticipated that a “red wave” would deliver them sweeping majorities in Congress, will instead take a thin lead in the House, per NBC News estimates.
Pelosi has also said that a recent attack on her husband, Paul Pelosi, by a hammer-wielding home intruder would affect her decision on whether to remain in leadership.
Current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is considered the top candidate to become speaker in the next Congress. On Tuesday, McCarthy won a party vote to become the GOP nominee for speaker, though he secured fewer votes than the 218 he will need when the full House casts its leadership votes in early January.
It’s unclear how the flip in House leadership will shake up Democrats’ top ranks. House Majority Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has served under Pelosi for years, but the 83-year-old isn’t a lock to lead in the minority, as some Democrats are looking for newer, younger figures to usher in a new generation of leadership.
Elected to Congress in 1987, Pelosi became the highest-ranking woman in congressional history in 2002, when she was elected House minority whip in the wake of that year’s midterms. She became House minority leader in 2003, and rose to Speaker of the House after Democrats won back the majority in 2006.
In her two stints as speaker, Pelosi presided over a laundry list of major political milestones and crises, as well as two impeachment proceedings against then-President Donald Trump.
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