Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing her retirement as House Democratic Leader
Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing her retirement as House Democratic Leader

Today, House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi announced in a speech on the House floor that she won’t seek anoth­er term as leader of the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus, con­clud­ing a two-decade run as both Minor­i­ty Leader and Speaker.

Pelosi will, how­ev­er, con­tin­ue to rep­re­sent Cal­i­for­ni­a’s 12th Dis­trict in the House.

“I will not seek re-elec­tion to Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship in the next Con­gress,” Pelosi declared in a speech car­ried live on cable net­works. “For me the hour has come for a new gen­er­a­tion to lead the Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus that I so deeply respect.”

Her cau­cus rose repeat­ed­ly to laud her with stand­ing ova­tions as Pelosi smiled.

Pelosi’s deputy, Major­i­ty Leader Ste­ny Hoy­er, intends to fol­low her exam­ple and exit lead­er­ship, paving the way for younger mem­bers to take over, like Hakeem Jef­fries of New York and Kath­leen Clark of Massachusetts.

Pelosi spoke to Pres­i­dent Joe Biden this morn­ing about her deci­sion before announc­ing her plans on the House floor. The White House released a lengthy state­ment from Biden not long after the speech con­clud­ed prais­ing Pelosi:

When I think of Nan­cy Pelosi, I think of dignity.

His­to­ry will note she is the most con­se­quen­tial Speak­er of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in our history.

There are count­less exam­ples of how she embod­ies the oblig­a­tion of elect­ed offi­cials to uphold their oath to God and coun­try to ensure our democ­ra­cy deliv­ers and remains a bea­con to the world. In every­thing she does, she reflects a dig­ni­ty in her actions and a dig­ni­ty she sees in the lives of the peo­ple of this nation.

In 2007, she made his­to­ry as the first woman Speak­er, but that was just the begin­ning of the his­to­ry she has made dur­ing her four terms. I know because I’ve seen her in action dur­ing my career as Sen­a­tor, Vice Pres­i­dent, and now as Pres­i­dent. With Nan­cy, you see a father’s daugh­ter who learned by his side how to win and gov­ern. With her lead­ing the way, you nev­er wor­ry about whether a bill will pass. If she says she has the votes, she has the votes. Every time.

His­to­ry will record her lead­er­ship with Pres­i­dent Oba­ma to res­cue the econ­o­my in cri­sis from the Great Recession.

With her sheer will, pass­ing the Afford­able Care Act to ensure health care is a right not a priv­i­lege. End­ing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell so patri­ot­ic Amer­i­cans can serve the coun­try they love no mat­ter who they love. The list goes on, includ­ing her lead­er­ship in defend­ing democ­ra­cy and advanc­ing human rights around the world.

In the first two years of my pres­i­den­cy, she is a sin­gu­lar force secur­ing once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion bills that will define our nation for decades to come. The Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan to get us through COVID-19. The Bipar­ti­san Infra­struc­ture Law to rebuild our roads and bridges. The CHIPS and Sci­ence Act to ensure the most advanced man­u­fac­tur­ing is done here in America.

The most sig­nif­i­cant gun safe­ty law in near­ly thir­ty years – for the chil­dren. One of the most sig­nif­i­cant bills help­ing vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies exposed to tox­ic mate­ri­als. And, the Infla­tion Reduc­tion Act that took on Big Phar­ma and won, and reflects the most aggres­sive action ever to tack­le the cli­mate crisis.

Because of Nan­cy Pelosi, the lives of mil­lions and mil­lions of Amer­i­cans are bet­ter, even in dis­tricts rep­re­sent­ed by Repub­li­cans who vot­ed against her bills and too often vil­i­fy her. That’s Nan­cy – always work­ing for the dig­ni­ty of all of the peo­ple. And, as a fierce defend­er of democ­ra­cy through our laws, his­to­ry will also note her fierce­ness and resolve to pro­tect our democ­ra­cy from the vio­lent, dead­ly insur­rec­tion of Jan­u­ary 6th. It’s a threat of polit­i­cal vio­lence and intim­i­da­tion that con­tin­ues and she and her fam­i­ly know all too well, but that will nev­er stop her from serv­ing our nation.

She might be step­ping down from her lead­er­ship role in the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic Cau­cus, but she will nev­er waiv­er in pro­tect­ing our sacred democracy.

Nan­cy Pelosi is first, last, and always for the peo­ple.  Jill and I count Nan­cy, Paul, and their fam­i­ly among our dear­est friends. As a nation, we owe her a deep debt of grat­i­tude for her ser­vice, her patri­o­tism, and above all, her absolute dignity.

Pelosi’s lega­cy also extends to a long list of bills that were passed by the House but died in the Sen­ate: bills to strength­en vot­ing rights, pro­tect Dream­ers, uphold repro­duc­tive rights, advance cli­mate jus­tice, reform polic­ing, and much more. Again and again, dur­ing eight years as Speak­er, Pelosi mar­shaled the votes need­ed to address the coun­try’s prob­lems in the House of Representatives.

As Minor­i­ty Leader, Pelosi kept her cau­cus dis­ci­plined and uni­fied, sup­ply­ing votes to keep the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment open when Repub­li­cans failed to govern.

Her twen­ty-year run as Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader over­lapped with four pres­i­den­cies: those of George W. Bush, Barack Oba­ma, Don­ald Trump, and Joe Biden.

Democ­rats had a tri­fec­ta for only four of those years (2009, 2010, 2021, 2022). Those were times of pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and progress rather than gridlock.

Pelosi’s lead­er­ship was cru­cial to mak­ing the xth Con­gress and the cur­rent 117th Con­gress suc­cess­ful. She isn’t done yet, either: The House will soon be vot­ing on final pas­sage of the Respect for Mar­riage Act and bills to bol­ster Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy and the coun­try’s finances against threats on the horizon.

The votes will be there — because Pelosi will have count­ed them. No one is bet­ter at count­ing votes and mov­ing leg­is­la­tion through the House than Speak­er Pelosi.

Our team at NPI thanks Speak­er Pelosi for her tremen­dous con­tri­bu­tions to our coun­try. As she said, quot­ing Scrip­ture, for every­thing, there is a sea­son. The time is right to pass the baton to a new gen­er­a­tion of lead­er­ship and cel­e­brate an incred­i­ble run that secured the pas­sage of leg­is­la­tion Amer­i­can fam­i­lies needed.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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