House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that she will not seek a leadership post in the next Congress, ending a two decade career leading the party caucus.
“With great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” Pelosi said in a speech from the House floor. “For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect.”
She indicated that she would remain in her congressional seat after she was reelected earlier this month.
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With Republicans gaining control of Congress, the question had been whether Pelosi, 82, would seek to continue in a leadership post as minority leader or, as she has indicated before, would step aside.
In a 15 minute speech on the House floor, Pelosi spoke of the history of the institution, as well as her legacy and accomplishments.
Pelosi has been one of the most effective speakers in the history of Congress, a lightning rod on the right but extraordinarily skillful in marshaling the Democratic caucus. The first and so far only woman to serve as speaker, from 2007 to 2011 and then returning in 2019, Pelosi has secured votes on landmark legislation regarding healthcare, climate, criminal justice reform, gun reform and same-sex marriage. A foe of Donald Trump in the final years of his presidency, she presided over two votes for his impeachment. She also famously tore up a copy of his speech at the end of his State of the Union address in 2020, after he used the moment to stage a reality show like spectacle that included awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh.
Her tenure also has been marked by turbulence, first and foremost the January 6th attack on the Capitol, in which rioters sought her out as she and other congressional leaders sought refuge in a secure location.
She also has been Democrats’ leading fundraiser, raising tens of millions through the years for party committees and PACs.
Pelosi recently told 60 Minutes that the decision on her future would be influenced by what happened to her husband, Paul, last month. An intruder broke into their San Francisco home and struck Paul Pelosi in the head with a hammer. According to police, the suspect had been looking for Nancy Pelosi, and the incident drew widespread concern that it was the latest example of how political divisions were escalating into violence.
Pelosi was first elected to her San Francisco district in 1987. She was elected House minority whip in 2002 and minority leader in 2003. She continued to lead the Democrats after the party lost control of the House in 2010, returning as House speaker after the 2018 midterm elections.
The Democratic caucus cheered Pelosi as she called the House to order at 9 AM PT on Thursday.
Pelosi had previously indicated that she would step away from leadership after 2022, but there more recently had been some speculation that she may stay, particularly given that Republicans hold such as slim majority.
Even though Democrats lost the majority in the midterms, Pelosi spoke of how the election was nevertheless was an affirmation of democracy, as a number of election deniers and Donald Trump-backed candidates lost their races. Democrats also retained control of the Senate and picked up gubernatorial seats.
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