Democrat Nancy Pelosi retains House Speaker post, having been re-elected as House Speaker in a vote on Jan. 3. The House of Representatives voted 216-209 in support of Pelosi, the narrowest margin by which someone has been elected to the post in the past 20 years. She failed to secure a majority (218 votes) of House members to vote for her. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy kept his position as the House minority leader. Interestingly, five Democrats opposed Pelosi’s reelection, while none of the Republicans voted against McCarthy. At present, the Democrats have majority control in the House with a 222-211 lead over the Republican Party.
The five Democrats who refused to support Pelosi are viewed as centrists and have several times provided support to bipartisan programs. They include Jared Golden from Maine, Conor Lamb from Pennsylvania, Elissa Slotkin from Michigan, Mikie Sherrill from New Jersey, and Abigail Spanberger from Virginia. “In a time marked by historically low trust in government, new voices are necessary to moving forward and achieving real progress… Last Congress, I kept my promise to vote for new leadership upon my swearing-in — and in this Congress, I remain consistent in my commitment to ushering in new leadership. Accordingly, I did not vote for Speaker Pelosi,” Spanberger said in a statement.
Pelosi has been leading House Democrats since 2003 and no Democrat had stepped in to challenge her. The 80-year-old had previously mentioned that this would be her final two years in office. The voting process was not without controversy. Pelosi had allowed Democrat Gwen Moore to cast her vote despite the fact that she contracted COVID-19 and was advised to remain in quarantine. Meanwhile, Republicans David Valado and Maria Elvia Salazar had missed their votes due to having contracted COVID-19. Many people pointed out that allowing Moore to come out in public was risking other people’s health.
After her win, Pelosi delivered a speech in which she committed to pursuing racial, economic, and environmental justice in the 117th Congress. She also noted that she was serving as the House Speaker of the most diverse House of Representatives in American history “with a record-shattering 122 women.” Some of her proposed House Rules for the new session of the Congress have been met with strong resistance due to their extreme leftist leanings. For instance, one of her proposals includes eliminating words like father, mother, daughter, and son while speaking in the House. Republican Tom Cole, a ranking member of the House Rules Committee, has called Pelosi’s proposal an attack on the Republican Minority.
“I am very disturbed that the package attacks the right to free speech by creating an ethics violation for members and employees of the House who post or share things that others think are unfounded or inappropriate. Such a rule is rife with the possibility of abuse and likely to be enforced in a way that creates a double standard between the majority and minority. This is a dark day for the preservation of free and thoughtful debate in the institution and indeed, all members elected by the people and for the people,” he said in a statement.
In December, Pelosi had stated that the House will vote on repealing the Hyde Amendment this year. The amendment bans using taxpayer money to fund most abortions. Many Democrats view the Hyde Amendment as discriminatory as it “prevents” women of color from securing the funding necessary for abortion. Pelosi strongly supports removing the Hyde Amendment, an action which she believes is “long overdue.”