A complete timeline of Nancy Pelosi’s re-election as speaker

Joanna Taylor
Monday 04 January 2021 13:46
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(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Nancy Pelosi has been elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives for the fourth time.

She has promised that this term, ending in 2023, will be her last.

Pelosi is one of the most influential figures in the United States Democratic Party and a staunch opponent of president Trump.

She oversaw his impeachment in December 2019 and famously ripped up his 2020 State of the Union address, calling it a “manifesto of mistruths”.

Pelosi is also the first woman to ever serve as House Speaker and will remain the highest-ranking female elected official in US history until the inauguration of vice president Kamala Harris on 20th January.

Throughout her career, Pelosi has been a trailblazer for women in politics. But how did she get to be where she is today?

Pelosi was elected House minority whip in 2001 while serving as California’s state representative, a position she has held since 1987. She was elected minority leader the following year.

In 2007, Pelosi became Speaker for the first time when the Democrats took control of the House during the midterm elections under president George W. Bush. She called it a “historic moment” for women, adding “we have broken the marble ceiling for our daughters and our granddaughters”. She was re-elected in 2009.

A Speaker’s duties include determining when bills are discussed and voted on and ensuring that legislation is passed. Traditionally, they do not participate in debate and rarely exercise their right to vote on bills themselves.

A House of Representatives Speaker might belong to the same party as the president (as was the case for Pelosi when Obama was elected), or represent opposition interests, as Pelosi did under Bush and Trump.

After her second tenure, Pelosi ceded the speakership in 2011 when Republicans took control of the House once more.

She returned to her role of House minority leader until 2019, when she ran for Speaker again. She won for a third time, promising to serve a maximum of four years: meaning her re-election on 3rd January could be her last.

Pelosi’s victory this time was by a slim margin. Some moderate Democrats essentially abstained from voting for her in protest of her running unopposed. 

During her first tenure as Speaker, Pelosi was a staunch opponent of the Iraq War and Bush’s attempts to privatise social security, but blocked impeachment proceedings against him.

Under Obama, she oversaw the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of controversial Don’t Ask Don’t Tell laws.

Speaker once again after the 2018 midterms, Pelosi spearheaded the successful impeachment of Trump in the House of Representatives. He remained in office, however, because proceedings failed to pass through the Republican-controlled Senate.

She also grabbed headlines with her hilarious put-downs of Trump, as well as ripping up his speech and (controversially) referring to him as “morbidly obese” on live TV.

The Speaker of the House is elected at the beginning of each new Congress: essentially, every two years.

Pelosi will serve under Democrat president Biden until at least 2023.

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