Pelosi, 82, has been the Democratic leader for two decades. She is expected to remain a member of the House, at least temporarily.
WASHINGTON — Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House, who helped shape many of the most consequential laws of the early 21st century, said Thursday that she will step down after two decades as the Democratic Party’s leader in the chamber.
“With great confidence in our caucus I will not seek re-election to Democratic leadership in the next Congress," Pelosi said in a speech on the House floor.
Pelosi was speaker from 2007 to 2011 and returned to the top job in 2019. She announced her decision just a day after NBC News and other news outlets projected that Republicans had flipped control of the House in last week’s midterm election, sending Pelosi and the Democrats back to the minority.
More personally, just weeks ago, her husband of nearly 60 years, Paul Pelosi, survived an assault by a hammer-wielding intruder at the family’s home in San Francisco.
Pelosi won't be leaving Congress after winning her 19th term last week. She is expected to remain, at least temporarily, given the GOP’s razor-thin majority.
As Pelosi took the mic, the chamber was packed with Democratic lawmakers, while the Republican side of the aisle was largely empty — a symbol of how politics have changed over Pelosi’s three and a half decades in the House. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., did not attend or watch the speech, citing "meetings," but House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., was present. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., crossed the Capitol to watch Pelosi speak, while the front row on the Democratic side of the chamber was filled with fellow female lawmakers from California.
Pelosi, 82, is one of the most powerful lawmakers of her generation or any other, and her departure will rob Democrats of strategic acumen and unmatched fundraising skills.
“She’s been at the center of the country’s biggest crises, initiatives and showdowns for a quarter-century,” Pelosi biographer Susan Page said. “People can certainly disagree with her policies and her tactics. She hasn’t done much to temper the partisan tone in Washington. But what you can’t disagree with is this: She has gotten things done, even when almost everybody else thought they were impossible.”
Pelosi's decision is expected to kick off a wave of generational change in Democratic leadership. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, 83, also announced Thursday that he will not seek another term in leadership. And Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, 82, will not seek any of the top three spots in leadership, but has indicated that he plans to stay on in an “advisory” role.