What’s next for Nancy Pelosi after stepping down as party leader?
The 82-year-old brings to an end two decades as the Democrats’ highest-ranking House member as the party looks to add youth to the leadership.
On Thursday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed that she would be stepping down from the Democratic leadership in the new Congress. The Californian lawmaker had served as the party’s top official in the House since 2002 and made history when she became the first female Speaker of the House in 2007.
“For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect,” Pelosi said in an emotional address to the House. “And I am grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility.”
She announced her decision in the aftermath of a brutal attack on her husband, Paul, which she said had also played a role in her decision-making.
The 82-year-old comfortably won re-election to the House of Representatives in the midterms and she will remain in Congress. She defeated GOP challenger John Dennis with close to 84% of the votes in California’s 11th District.
Who will be the next House leader of the Democrats?
Pelosi has been the highest-ranking Democrat in the House for two decades and her decision to step down was followed by her long-time number two doing the same.
Rep. Steny Hoyer has served as the minority leader twice and has been the chamber’s second-ranking Democrat since 2003. But the 83-year-old Hoyer has also decided that now is the right time to step down and allow for the next generation of Democratic lawmakers to cut their teeth.
“I think it’s time for new leadership and I think we have excellent opportunities. Very frankly, I think I could be elected, that was not the issue,” Hoyer said. “I think it’s always good for a party to have new blood and new invigoration, enthusiasm and new ideas.”
Some from within the party have suggested that the Democrats need to freshen up the House leadership. In addition to Pelosi and Hoyer the House Majority Whip in the most recent Congress, Rep. Jim Clyburn, is also north of 80 years old.
With the departure of those established octogenarians, expect for the next batch of Democratic leaders to be considerably younger. New York-based Rep. Hakeem Jeffries has been identified as a rising star for some time and the 52-year-old has been the chair of the Democratic caucus since 2019.
On Thursday Hoyer authored a letter to Democrats in the House, calling on them to elect Jeffries as his replacement as Minority Leader. On Friday, Jeffries officially announced his intention to run to replace Pelosi as the Democrats’ leader in the House.
Rep. Katherine Clark, 59, could well replace Clyburn as the party whip, having served as assistant speaker during this congressional session. There will be no Democratic Speaker in the upcoming Congress as the GOP have taken a majority, but Rep. Pete Aguilar could take the position as the Democrats’ third-ranking House member if he becomes the new caucus chair.