House panel votes to designate Pelosi ‘Speaker Emerita’

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee voted on Tuesday evening to designate Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “Speaker Emerita,” as the longtime Democratic leader prepares to step away from the top brass of the caucus.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who was elected Wednesday to succeed Pelosi in the top spot in the caucus, offered the resolution during the panel’s meeting. Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), who was chosen Wednesday to serve as the next Democratic whip, seconded the resolution.

The measure ultimately passed unanimously.

“Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi is the most consequential Speaker in American history and I am humbled by the opportunity to recognize her as Speaker Emerita,” Jeffries said. 

“This honorific reflects Speaker Pelosi’s lifetime of service as a legendary legislator, notorious negotiator and a fabulous facilitator. Our Caucus and our country are better off for her leadership, without question, and this title is but a small token of our gratitude,” he added.

The move from the committee came nearly two weeks after Pelosi announced that she will not seek a position in Democratic leadership in the next Congress, putting a bookend on her historic, two-decade tenure at the top of the caucus.

Shortly after her announcement, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said they would not run for the top three leadership positions in the next Congress.

In a floor speech announcing her future plans, Pelosi said the time had come for “a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus,” which took shape this week.

House Democrats met for leadership elections on Wednesday and elected Jeffries as Democratic leader, Clark as whip and Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) as caucus chair. The trio had for some time been seen as the likely successors to Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn.

Asked on Wednesday about the potential for Pelosi and Clyburn to be like “helicopter parents” in the next Congress, Jeffries told reporters “what an incredible blessing to be able to continue to rely on the life experiences, the wisdom, the leadership instincts, the skills, the talent and ability of Speaker Pelosi, Leader Jeffries and Jim Clyburn.”

“It’s a blessing that we embrace, we stand on their shoulders, and look forward to continuing to get things done for everyday Americans,” he added.

Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), co-chairs of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, lauded Pelosi being designated “Speaker Emerita,” writing in a statement they “proudly celebrate her marble-ceiling-smashing and legendary public service.”

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi will go down as one of the greatest legislative leaders in American history,” the trio added. “House Democrats are endlessly grateful for her two decades at the helm of our Caucus, forging historic progress with an unmatched mastery of policy and unrivaled strategic brilliance.”

Receiving the “Speaker Emerita’ title was not the only honor Pelosi was granted this week: on Tuesday, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a close ally of Pelosi and the chair of the House Administration Committee, introduced a resolution that would name the caucus room in the Cannon House Office Building the “Speaker Nancy Pelosi Caucus Room.”

Tags Barbara Lee Cheri Bustos Eric Swalwell Hakeem Jeffries Hakeem Jeffries House Administration Committee House Democratic Caucus House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee james clyburn Katherine Clark Katherine Clark Nancy Pelosi Pete Aguilar Speaker Emerita Speaker Nancy Pelosi Caucus Room Steny Hoyer Zoe Lofgren
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