Pelosi to step down from Democratic leadership, will continue serving in Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she will step aside and not seek a leadership role in the new Congress. The longtime San Francisco representative’s decision comes a day after Republicans officially took control of the House. "I will not seek re-election to Democrat leadership in the next Congress," said Pelosi. "The hour’s come for a new generation to lead the caucus that I so deeply respect." 

Pelosi will continue representing San Francisco in Congress as she has for the last 35 years. For 20 years, she’s held the top position in the Democratic caucus, and made history as the first female speaker. "When I came to the Congress in 1987, there were twelve Democratic women, now they are over 90 and we want more," said Pelosi in her speech on the House floor. 

Peninsula Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo), who is retiring, sat in the front row while Pelosi gave her remarks. "It was emotional, but it was filled with her absolute commitment to this country and her love of country," said Speier. 

Pelosi’s decision comes in the aftermath of the attack on her husband, Paul, at their San Francisco home. She previously said it would impact her decision. Jostling has already begun over who will lead Democrats, New York representative Hakeem Jeffries has emerged as the favorite. The party will elect new leaders on November 30. "There’s also been for some time, pressure from other members of the party to pass the torch, to move onto leadership to younger members," said Melissa Michelson, political science professor at Menlo College. 

Rep. Speier said she expects Pelosi’s influence to continue to be felt in the caucus. "She is the best strategist, the best tactician," said Speier. "I would be surprised if she is not relied on heavily by those who do take up those positions of leadership." 

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With Republicans' slim majority, the gavel could go to another Californian, current House minority leader and Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy. The speaker described some of her accomplishments with Presidents Bush, Obama and Biden. She did not mention former President Trump. 

President Biden released this statement saying in part: "History will note she is the most consequential Speaker of the House of Representatives in our history." He went on to say, "Nancy Pelosi is first, last, and always for the people… As a nation, we owe her a deep debt of gratitude for her service, her patriotism, and above all, her absolute dignity."