Nancy Pelosi Gets Back the Gavel — Elected Speaker of the House

Nancy Pelosi of California takes the gavel from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., after being elected House speaker at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019.

By Published on January 4, 2019

Democratic California Rep. Nancy Pelosi won the election Thursday and will retain her position as the speaker of the House.

Pelosi served as the House’s speaker from 2007 until 2011, the only woman to ever hold that position. Her return to the speakership position makes her only the seventh individual to do so on non-consecutive terms.

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At 78 years old, Pelosi will tie former Democratic Texas Rep. Sam Rayburn as the oldest person elected to the role.

Despite ultimately running for the nomination unopposed, Pelosi faced a challenge from a small, but vocal, fraction of Democratic congressmen and congressmen-elect who expressed their opposition her ascension to the leadership position.

A cohort of House Democrats began circulating a letter in mid-November in an effort to block the California congresswoman from winning the nod. Sixteen Democratic representatives signed the letter, citing the need for a new direction within the Democratic Party. However, the dissenters were not able to find an adequate challenger, and ultimately various signees of the letter began taking back their opposition and supporting Pelosi.

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Pelosi earned the Democratic nomination in November, winning 203 members of her caucus. Of the 239 votes cast, 32 voted in opposition, three were left blank, and one member was absent for the vote.

The win comes amid a partial government shutdown that has been in effect since Dec. 22. The House passed a stopgap funding bill Dec. 20 that included $5.7 billion to construct a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, however, with a 51-seat majority, Republicans fell short of the necessary 60 votes needed to send it to President Donald Trump’s desk for signature.

Pelosi has vehemently opposed any funding for a border wall, calling it “immoral, ineffective and expensive.” Along with her Democratic colleagues, she reportedly put together legislation that would reopen the government, but not include any appropriates for the wall. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell noted the aforementioned legislation is dead on arrival.

Republicans nominated California Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

Pelosi will be sworn in as the 63rd speaker of the House.


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