California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi will leave her position as the leader of the House Democrats.
The Speaker of the House announced her decision during a speech on the floor of Congress on Nov. 16.
“With great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” Pelosi said. “For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic Congress that I so deeply respect… And I am grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility.”
Pelosi is currently serving her fourth term as Speaker. Having won reelection in California’s 12th congressional district during midterms, she will remain in Congress for an 18th term. Pelosi was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1987. She previously served as the House Democratic Whip and as the House minority leader from 2003 to 2007 and again from 2011 to 2019.
She was first elected as the 52nd Speaker in 2007 and was the highest-ranking female elected official in national history until Vice President Kamala Harris was inaugurated. Additionally, Pelosi has been in office during four presidential administrations — George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Donald Trump – who she notably avoided mentioning during her speech.
“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,” per CNBC.
Pelosi’s announcement comes just after the Republican Party officially took control of the House following the results of midterm elections. On Nov. 16, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California won his party’s nomination to serve as Speaker when the House’s next term begins in January. He does not currently have the 218 votes needed to secure the position.
Seven House seats have still not been determined.
Controlling the House will allow Republicans to determine the legislative agenda for the final two years of President Joe Biden’s term.
Pelosi’s announcement creates a significant power vacuum. Her replacement as the leader of House Democrats is not immediately clear. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina hold the second and third-in-command positions respectively. Neither has disclosed their plans for the future.
Other possible contenders include Representative Hakeem Jefferies of New York and Adam Schiff of California.
During her speech, Pelosi reflected on her time in the nation’s Capitol which she first visited when her father, the late Maryland Congressman Thomas D’Alesandro Jr, was sworn into office.
“This is the most beautiful building in the world because of what it represents… The Capitol is a temple of our democracy, of our Constitution, of our highest ideals,” she said, per ABC News.
“When I first came to the floor at 6 years old, never would I have thought that I would go from homemaker to House speaker,” added Pelosi.