Closing The Gap

On a day of historic firsts, Nancy Pelosi makes history for the second time as House speaker

Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds the gavel during the first session of the 116th Congress at the U.S. Capitol January 3, 2019 in Washington, DC. Under the cloud of a partial federal government shutdown, Pelosi will reclaim her former title as Speaker of the House and her fellow Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives for the second time in eight years.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Today, a record-breaking number of women were sworn in to serve in the 116th Congress.

These newly elected leaders include people like Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, the first Native American women elected to Congress, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim women elected to Congress, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

And as these lawmakers are achieving firsts, Nancy Pelosi made history for the second time. This afternoon, the representative from San Francisco, California, was voted Speaker of the House of Representatives for the second time. The position puts her next in line to the presidency, after the vice president.

"When our new members take the oath, our Congress will be refreshed, and our democracy will be strengthened by the optimism, idealism and patriotism of this transformative freshman class," said Pelosi on Thursday. "Working together, we will redeem the promise of the American dream for every family, advancing progress for every community."

Pelosi, now 78, first was elected to the role in 2007 and held the position until 2011. She remains the only woman to ever serve as Speaker of the House.

"It is an historic moment for the Congress, and an historic moment for the women of this country. It is a moment for which we have waited over 200 years," said Pelosi at the time. "Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights. But women weren't just waiting; women were working. Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal."

She is only the second person to return to the role after leaving it (Texas democrat Sam Rayburn was the first, as reported by Politico) — and ties with Rayburn as the oldest person elected Speaker and to hold the position.

Pelosi has garnered attention in recent weeks for her role in negotiating with President Trump amidst a now 13-day-long government shutdown. In December, President Trump held a highly publicized meeting with Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Vice President Mike Pence in which the Democrats and the President argued over the funding of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

President Trump attempted to downplay Pelosi's leverage, saying that she was "in a situation where it's not easy for her to talk."

"Mr. President," Pelosi responded, "please don't characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats, who just won a big victory."

Trump, Pelosi & Schumer have very public spat at White House

On Wednesday while appearing on CNN's "New Day," documentary filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi, the Speaker's daughter, was asked to comment on her mother's political abilities.

"How does she approach meetings with President Trump, A, and B, just what are your feelings about this person who you know quite well becoming speaker of the House for a second time?" host John Berman asked.

"She'll cut your head off," Pelosi said of her mother's acumen, "and you won't even know you're bleeding."

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