House elects Pelosi to second Speakership

Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWe need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Florida Democrat hits administration over small business loan rollout The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update 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 TrumpOvernight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts 'friendly' talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as 'just wrong' | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY We need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Barr tells prosecutors to consider coronavirus risk when determining bail: report MORE and his administration.

Pelosi won the Speakership in a 220-192 vote over Rep. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Pelosi, McConnell clash over next coronavirus bill Pelosi scales back coronavirus infrastructure proposal 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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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 JonesExperts warn Georgia's new electronic voting machines vulnerable to potential intrusions, malfunctions Georgia restores 22,000 voter registrations after purge Stacey Abrams group files emergency motion to stop Georgia voting roll purge 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 EscobarTexas House Dems ask governor to issue stay-at-home order 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order Hispanic Democrats demand funding for multilingual coronavirus messaging 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 ShermanPelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid House Democrats eyeing much broader Phase 3 stimulus Overnight Defense: Lawmakers clash during Pompeo hearing on Iran | Trump touts Taliban deal ahead of signing | Trump sued over plan to use Pentagon funds for border wall 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 (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout 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 HoyerProcedural politics: What just happened with the coronavirus bill? DC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Lysol, disinfecting wipes and face masks mark coronavirus vote in House MORE (D-Md.) and Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnDemocrats struggle to keep up with Trump messaging on coronavirus Why Gretchen Whitmer's stock is rising with Team Biden Democrats fear coronavirus impact on November turnout 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.