Pelosi says she's not done yet

Lauren Schniederman

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wants everyone to know she's not done yet. 

After a recent wave of retiring veteran Democrats, the former House speaker assertively said Thursday that's no indication she would soon follow in their footsteps. 

"When it is [time], you'll know," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.

"They go at their pace, [and] I go at mine. We'll miss them — they're fabulous — but, again, it stirs the pot, and lots of people are very excited about the prospect of what comes next for them," said the Democratic leader. "It's a constantly reinvigorated body; that's what our founders intended."

Since January, a number of seasoned House Democrats, have announced that this year will be their last in Congress. The list includes many close Pelosi allies like Reps. George Miller (Calif.) and Henry Waxman (Calif.) and other longtime members such as Jim Moran (Va.), Rush Holt (N.J.) and John Dingell (Mich.), the longest serving member in the history of Congress.

While the number of retirements is not unusual and is so far less than in recent cycles, the veteran stature of the names and their relationships with Pelosi has only amplified the whispers that she, too, might be eyeing the door, particularly if the Democrats fail to take back the House in November.

Pelosi, for her part, has consistently dismissed such speculation, which has swirled ceaselessly since the Democrats lost control of the House in 2010's landslide elections.

She says her focus on passing Democratic bills and winning back the House — a tall order with the 17 seats her party needs to flip — doesn't allow the time to contemplate her longer-term plans. 

"I'm too busy," she said. "As long as there's 1-in-5 children in America who lives in poverty, what I do is get up every morning revved to the task."

Pelosi used the question about her future as an opportunity to attack a comprehensive tax reform bill introduced Wednesday by Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the head of the Ways and Means Committee. 

Pelosi said the proposal would pile $2,000 in additional taxes on single moms making the minimum wage. 

"I have enough to invigorate me, and everybody's timetable around here isn't everybody else's timetable around here."

The wave of veteran retirements has highlighted the unlikelihood that the Democrats will regain House control in the midterm elections. Pelosi, though, downplayed those dynamics, arguing the long-serving members were simply ready to move on.

"They want to go do something else," she said.

Pelosi said Miller, perhaps her closest Capitol Hill ally, had indicated he was ready to retire several years ago, even when the Democrats controlled the House. 

"He was ready, and I said, 'Well, we have so much more work to do,'" Pelosi said. "So it has nothing to do with being in the majority or the minority. He's ready to go home."

First elected in 1987, Pelosi, 73, has led House Democrats since 2003.