House elects Pelosi to second Speakership

Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDACA recipient claims Trump is holding ‘immigrant youth hostage’ amid quest for wall Fox’s Wallace to Pence: Is government shutdown all about ‘leverage?' Former House Republican: Trump will lose the presidency if he backs away from border security MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday seized the Speaker’s gavel for the second time in a dozen years, marking an historic return to power for the nation’s first female Speaker and ushering in what promises to be a new era of oversight for President TrumpDonald John TrumpDACA recipient claims Trump is holding ‘immigrant youth hostage’ amid quest for wall Lady Gaga blasts Pence as ‘worst representation of what it means to be Christian’ We have a long history of disrespecting Native Americans and denying their humanity MORE and his administration.

Pelosi won the Speakership in a 220-192 vote over Rep. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthySteve King fundraising off controversy surrounding white supremacy comments House rejects GOP measure to pay workers but not open government McCarthy, allies retaliate against Freedom Caucus leader MORE (R-Calif.), the House minority leader.

Twelve Democrats voted for candidates other than Pelosi, who worked to crush a Democratic insurgency that initially appeared to threaten her Speakership bid. Six Republicans voted against McCarthy. 

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Three Democrats, Reps. Jim CooperJames (Jim) Hayes Shofner CooperThe 15 Democrats who voted against Pelosi House elects Pelosi to second Speakership Live coverage: House elects new Speaker as Dems take charge MORE (Tenn.), Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinHere are the lawmakers who will forfeit their salaries during the shutdown The 15 Democrats who voted against Pelosi House elects Pelosi to second Speakership MORE (Mich.) and Jeff Van DrewJeff Van DrewDemocrat votes 'no' on Speaker before reversing course The 15 Democrats who voted against Pelosi House elects Pelosi to second Speakership MORE (N.J.), voted "present."

Pelosi, 78, agreed to limit her new Speakership to a maximum of four more years in order to win over some critics within her party. That concession brought a handful of Pelosi's early critics to her side in Thursday's vote, assuring her rise to the Speakership. 

Pelosi had spent weeks corralling Democratic support, with the idea that she would need 218 votes — a majority of the full chamber — to secure the Speaker’s gavel.

In fact, the number was lower than that, due to the absence of Rep. Walter JonesWalter Beaman JonesHouse elects Pelosi to second Speakership GOP lawmaker suggests Trump use some of his own money to help pay for border wall Pelosi sees fierce resistance from White House if Dems seek Trump’s tax returns MORE (R-N.C.), who’s fighting an illness; the three “present” votes on the Democratic side; and one outstanding race — North Carolina’s Ninth District — still to be called.

Those dynamics lowered the threshold Pelosi required, since House rules dictate that an elected Speaker needs a simple majority of lawmakers who are on the chamber floor and vote for an individual — a guideline that excludes "present" votes and vacancies.

In accepting the post, Pelosi vowed to work across the aisle, when possible, but also to fight for Democratic priorities, when necessary, on issues as varied as health care, income disparity, immigration and climate change.
 

“[Voters] want a Congress that delivers results for the people, opening up opportunity and lifting up their lives,” Pelosi said in her prepared remarks, distributed to reporters before the vote.

The blueprint sets the stage for frequent clashes with the GOP-controlled Senate and the Trump White House — an adversarial dynamic highlighted by the current impasse over federal spending that’s led to a prolonged partial government shutdown.

The Democrats’ return to House power marks the first divided Congress since the Republicans took control of the Senate in 2015. And notably, Pelosi was quick to underscore the constitutional responsibility of Congress to act as a check on the presidency — a duty Democrats have accused Republicans of neglecting since Trump took office two years ago.

“Our nation is at an historic moment,” Pelosi said in her remarks. “Two months ago, the American people spoke, and demanded a new dawn.”

In taking the gavel a second time, Pelosi became the first lawmaker to become Speaker in nonconsecutive Congresses since Rep. Sam Rayburn (D-Texas) in 1955. 

On hand to watch the historic swearing in were a host of Pelosi’s family members — including all nine of her grandchildren — and a handful of celebrities, including Tony Bennett and Micky Hart, the drummer for Grateful Dead.

On the Democratic side of the aisle, the mood was electric as virtually every lawmaker stepped up to announce their support for Pelosi — many with enthusiastic flourishes or an auxiliary message.

"Nancy 'No Wall' Pelosi," bellowed newly elected Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarOcasio-Cortez and freshmen Dems seek out McConnell in bid to end shutdown 116th Congress breaks records for women, minority lawmakers Border lawmakers press Trump to beef up existing security MORE (D), who represents a Texas border district.  

When it was Pelosi's time to vote, a pair of her grandchildren did a dance in the aisle.

In several respects, Pelosi faces a more grueling landscape than she did in first taking the Speaker’s gavel in 2007.

Pelosi will be squaring off against an unpredictable president with a penchant for lashing out at his adversaries — a list that has included Pelosi — and appeasing his conservative base.

Yet Pelosi will also confront challenges within her own diverse caucus, which will feature an enormous freshmen class, including a host of young ideologues vowing to fight for far-left ideals like Medicare-for-all and government guaranteed jobs.

The potential divisions were on display on Thursday, when Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanBill Maher calls for impeachment of 'sick man' Trump: 'You have to go ahead and do it' Freshman House members: Calls for impeachment 'premature' Dems call freshman's impeachment remarks 'inappropriate' MORE (D-Calif.) announced that he’ll use the first day of the new Congress to re-introduce articles of impeachment against Trump — an idea rejected by Pelosi and her leadership team, who are calling for a conclusion to Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s probe into Russian election interference before taking such a remarkable step.

Pelosi on Thursday acknowledged the challenges ahead, but vowed to confront them head on.

“We have no illusions that our work will be easy, that all of us in this chamber will always agree.  But let each of us pledge that when we disagree, we will respect each other and we will respect the truth,” she said.

“We will debate and advance good ideas no matter where they come from.”

Reps. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerBuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president Dems revive impeachment talk after latest Cohen bombshell Laura Ingraham: Dems 'are all going to have to kiss Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's ring' MORE (D-Md.) and Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnClyburn: Dems did not rush to judgment over BuzzFeed report Black Caucus chair says America's growing diversity faces 'dragon' of hate House elects Pelosi to second Speakership MORE (D-S.C.) will continue to serve as her deputies as House majority leader and majority whip respectively. 

McCarthy and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) will continue as the top Republicans in the lower chamber, taking on the roles of House minority leader and minority whip.

This story was updated at 2:34 p.m.