- Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House again on Thursday.
- She becomes one of just a few lawmakers to serve as speaker in two, non-consecutive Congresses.
- Pelosi takes over the House majority while the government remains in a partial shutdown.
WASHINGTON – Democrats elected Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House on Thursday, placing her in the history books as one of only a few lawmakers to ever wield the gavel multiple times.
Pelosi won the speakership with 220 votes, strictly along party lines. A handful of Democrats voted for other fellow members and most Republicans voted for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. She last served as speaker from 2007-2011.
Pelosi had previously been elected party leader in the House Democratic Caucus, a relatively easy feat. But in order to become speaker with the necessary 219 votes on the House floor, Pelosi used her skill to court Democrats on the fence about supporting and even turned dozens of members who had publicly opposed her on the campaign trail and in previous leadership elections.
“I am particularly proud to be the woman Speaker of the House of this Congress, which marks 100 years of women winning the right to vote, as we serve with more than 100 women in the House of Representatives – the highest number in history,” Pelosi said in a floor speech upon becoming speaker.
She made a series of promises in the speech as well, pledging to tone down the hyper-partisanship that has plagued Washington for years.
“We have no illusions that our work will be easy, that all of us in this chamber will always agree,” Pelosi said. “But let each of us pledge that when we disagree, we will respect each other and we will respect the truth.”
“And I pledge that this Congress will be transparent, bipartisan and unifying; that we will seek to reach across the aisle in this Chamber and across the divisions in this great nation,” she added.
Pelosi also brought along a handful of high profile celebrity guests to view her speech, including singer Tony Bennett, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, and television and fashion personality Tim Gunn.
Pelosi takes the reigns in the middle of a government shutdown
As speaker, Pelosi will now be in a key position when negotiating with President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Senate as she takes over in the midst of a government shutdown quickly approaching the record for longest in history.
In her speech, Pelosi addressed the shutdown, which brought Washington to a standstill over the Christmas holiday.
“We will debate and advance good ideas no matter where they come from,” she said. “And in that spirit, Democrats will be offering the Senate Republican appropriations legislation to re-open government later today – to meet the needs of the American people, to protect our borders, and to respect our workers.”
Pelosi has already drawn a hard line on Trump’s key priority for reopening the government by not providing funding for the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border. Instead, Pelosi has vowed to have the House pass a funding package on Thursday that would reopen the government and punt the issue of the Department of Homeland Security and any wall negotiations until February 8.
But the White House has already come out against any plan as Trump is still demanding at least $US5.6 billion for border security, with an emphasis on the wall.
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