WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats nominated Rep. Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday to be the speaker who guides them again next year as Joe Biden becomes president, and she quickly seemed to suggest these would be her final two years in the leadership post.
The California Democrat, the first woman to be speaker, was nominated by acclamation as the party’s lawmakers used a virtual meeting to pick their leaders. Pelosi already has served six years in the job, but the next two loom as her toughest.
After unexpectedly losing at least 10 incumbents in the Nov. 3 elections, House Democrats will have about a 222-213 majority, the tightest margin in two decades. That prospect has moderates and progressives trading blame over why they flopped on Election Day.
In addition, Biden and Congress face an uncontrolled pandemic, a virus-stifled economy and divisions among voters who largely either idolize or detest outgoing President Trump. And there’s anxiety already among Democrats looking ahead to 2022 and the midterm elections.
Against that backdrop, many House Democrats have insisted it’s time for fresh leadership. Pelosi and her top two lieutenants, Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, and Jim Clyburn, of South Carolina, have served in their positions together for more than 12 years and each is age 80 or older.
Pelosi called for unity when she addressed her colleagues Wednesday after winning the nomination: “The theme, I think, of what we do next has to be about justice” in the economy, health care and policing, she said, according to a transcript released by her office.
When asked whether the next two years would be her last as speaker, she mentioned a commitment she made in 2018 to limit her term to four more years.
“I don’t want to undermine any leverage I may have, but I made the statement,” she said Wednesday.
All House members will pick the speaker when the new Congress convenes in early January. Pelosi will need roughly 218 votes to prevail and can ill afford to lose many Democratic votes.