‘My friends, no matter what title you all, my colleagues, have bestowed upon me, speaker, leader, whip, there is no greater official honor for me than to stand on this floor and to speak for the people of San Francisco. This I will continue to do as a member of the house, speaking for the people of San Francisco, serving the great state of California, and defending our constitution. And with great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek re-election to democratic leadership in the next congress,’ she announced on the House floor.
Pelosi received a standing ovation from House Democrats when she entered the chamber. Members of her party packed the seats into the aisles, whooping and cheering as she took the rostrum.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was in the House chamber for Pelosi’s remarks.
The Republican side of the House was notably empty with less than a dozen seats occupied.
Ahead of her remarks, Democratic lawmakers and Pelosi’s staff gathered on the House floor to get a prime seat for her announcement.
First elected by Democrats as their leader in 2003, she as served at the top of the leadership since then – for a total of 29 years.
Wearing a white suit – the color of suffragettes – Pelosi, 82, smiled as she walked into the speaker’s office but didn’t answer questions.
Pelosi, four years ago, pledged not to seek to lead her party past January 2023. But she is unlikely to leave Congress just weeks after voters in her district elected her to another two-year term.
If she steps down as leader, Democrats would have to decide how to replace her as their House leader but her would be successors have avoided any public jockeying as they await Pelosi to formally announce her plans.
Pelosi’s two longtime lieutenants – Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Democratic Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina – are also in their 80s and making decisions about their futures.
Both said Thursday morning they plan to stay involved in leadership but didn’t say if they would try for the top spot.
Many think New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the chair of the House Democratic caucus, would move to be the next party leader.
Jeffries, 52, is a leader among the next generation of lawmakers, who have been pushing for the older generation to step aside to make room for a new crop of leaders.
He refused to talk about his next steps on Thursday morning. He came out of a meeting of party leadership, which Pelosi did not attend, saying he looked forward to hearing from her on her next steps.
He also called Pelosi a ‘legendary leader.’
Speaker Nancy Pelosi received a standing ovation when she entered the House chamber
Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives in the Capitol on Thursday morning, giving no hints as to her decision about her future
Nancy Pelosi has been a leader in Democratic politics for more than two decades
Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul at a 2007 event in New York City, Paul Pelosi is recovering from a brutal attack
New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the chair of the House Democratic caucus, is expected to run for leader if Pelosi steps down
Nancy Pelosi first became speaker of the House in 2007, she’s shown above after her swearing in, surrounded by her grandchildren and the children of other members of Congress
Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump clashed frequently when they were in power – above Pelosi claps for his arrival for his 2019 State of the Union address
Nancy Pelosi in 1987, the night she won a special election to Congress
Democrats are set to hold party leadership elections on November 30.
Her decision on her future plans also comes in the aftermath of a brutal attack on her husband, Paul Pelosi. Paul Pelosi is still recovering from being attacked by a hammer from a man who broke into their San Francisco home, looking for the speaker, who was not there.
Pelosi also decided to make her announcement after Republicans officially won control of the House on Wednesday. The deciding race was called a week after Election Day, giving Republicans the 218th seat needed to flip the House from Democratic control.
But Democrats were able to hold off a predicted red wave and the GOP will have one of the narrowest margins of seats in history, complicating their efforts to govern.
Pelosi has been a towering figure in American history and was, at one point, the most powerful woman in the government.
She was once describing as ruling House Democrats with an iron fist inside a velvet glove. She has stayed in power through Democratic victories and defeats, surviving Donald Trump’s presidency and calls from her own party for a new generation of leadership.
Her fundraising prowess (she has raised over $1 billion for Democrats), her tireless campaigning and her personal relationships with her members kept her in the top spot.
Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi was born in Baltimore on March 26, 1940. Her father, Thomas D’Alesandro, was a Democratic congressman from Maryland who became mayor of Baltimore.
She grew up in politics, learning campaigning from her father, and attended John F. Kennedy’s inauguration.
She met Paul Pelosi in college. They married after school and eventually settled in San Francisco. She worked in California state politics, eventually becoming the head of the state party.
When Rep. Phillip Burton, who represented San Francisco, died in 1983, his wife Sala replaced him in Congress. But she died a few years later and picked Pelosi as her designated successor.
Pelosi won that 1987 special election and has been re-elected easily ever since.
She worked her way up House leadership and became speaker in 2007, the first woman to hold the role. She served in it through George W. Bush’s presidency and the first few years of Barack Obama’s.
She is credited with helping Obama pass the Affordable HealthCare Act. But Democrats then lost control of the House in the 2010 election, making Pelosi minority leader.
When Democrats won the House majority again in 2018, Pelosi returned to the speakership.
She became a bete noir to then President Donald Trump. She did not shy away from challenging him, especially during delicate negotiations over legislation.
She famously ripped up his 2020 State of the Union speech to Congress, in a public display of disgust with that address, as she sat behind him on the House podium.
And she oversaw two impeachments of him on the House floor. He was acquitted by the Senate on both ocassions.
She was overseeing the counting of the electoral college vote on January 6th when her security rushed her out of the Capitol building as Trump’s MAGA supporters stormed the building.
Nancy Pelosi in 1987, when she first ran for Congress
Pelosi helped pass the Affordable Care Act, she’s seen at the White House in March 2010, when then-President Obama signed it into law
Nancy Pelosi had an antagonistic relationship with President Donald Trump, above she’s seen in the Oval Office with him, Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer in December 2018
Nancy Pelosi can be seen at left in this 1961 photo of her father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., speaking with President John F. Kennedy after taking the oath to become a member of the Federal Renegotiation Board
She has enjoyed a resurgence of acclaim as the House committee investigating the insurrection showed footage of her that day.
She was hidden in a secure location with the rest of Congressional leadership and working the phones to demand backup for Capitol Police and help securing the Capitol. At one point she opened a pack of jerkey with her teeth, talking and eating at the same time.
She also spoke with then-Vice President Mike Pence, asking him about his safety.
Once the Capitol was secure, she and Pence returned to the House floor to oversee the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
Along with her rise in national prominence, Pelosi became a boogey man for Republicans. They bashed her as the liberal from San Francisco, using her to raise funds and to campaign against.