WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was reelected by as Speaker of the House on Sunday by a narrow margin, defeating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) with just 216 votes to 209, according to reports. Pelosi, 80, has served as the head of the Democratic Party in Congress since 2003 and is the only woman to hold the position of Speaker.
This marks Pelosi’s fourth – and possibly last – two-year term as Speaker, and the lack of overall support from her own party, despite still winning, was seen as surprising. Some have come to question Pelosi’s leadership since the November 2020 elections saw Democrats hold onto their majority in the House, yet still manage to lose approximately a dozen seats to Republicans. As a result, five Democrats either voted for other Speaker candidates or “present,” which represents a vote neither for or against Pelosi.
Pelosi, with the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden fast approaching on January 20, faces a difficult period in her role as Speaker, with the country currently up against numerous challenges including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, restoring the economy, civil unrest, and many other issues.
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After Pelosi was reelected, McCarthy ceremonially handed her the speaker’s gavel; upon taking it, Pelosi spoke about the difficult period ahead in her acceptance speech.
“We accept a responsibility as daunting and demanding as any that previous generations of leadership have faced,” she said. “Our most urgent priority will continue to be defeating the coronavirus. And defeat it, we will.”
McCarthy has previously stated that Pelosi’s last term as Speaker was “the least productive Congress in nearly 50 years,” causing Democrats to respond that the Republican-lead Senate was actually to blame due to their blocking of numerous bills and aid packages passed by Congress.