Nancy Pelosi again elected Speaker as 116th U.S. Congress sworn in

Friday, January 4, 2019

Nancy Pelosi yesterday resumed the office of Speaker of the House, being voted into the position by the incoming 116th United States Congress.

The new members of the House of Representatives, which include 235 Democrats and 199 Republicans, voted for Pelosi to serve as Speaker with 220 votes. Republican Kevin McCarthy, who held the post of Majority Leader this past term, received 192.

Portrait of Nancy Pelosi taken for the 111th Congress.
Image: United States Government.

"I pledge that this Congress will be transparent, bipartisan and unifying; that we will seek to reach across the aisle in this Chamber and across the divisions across our nation," Pelosi told the public. Guests at the swearing in included Pelosi's grandchildren and such celebrities as fashion designer Tim Gunn and Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart.

President Donald Trump congratulated Pelosi, saying, "hopefully we're going to have a lot of things that we can get done together."

Pelosi has said her plans for the new term will begin with less controversial issues with which she could find common ground with Republicans, but Democrats also plan to address the current government shutdown promptly.

About a quarter of the U.S. federal government, 800,000 employees, is not in operation because President Trump and the previous Congress could not reach an agreement about the national budget. President Trump has said he will not approve a budget that does not allocate funding for a wall along the country's border with Mexico. Pelosi has proposed legislation that would fund the government through September. For the budget to pass, it must also be approved by the Senate, which has a Republican majority, and it must be signed by President Trump.

Within her own party, the choice of Pelosi was not uncontested. Some called for younger leadership. Altogether, fifteen Democrats defected. Pelosi had agreed to support some of her opponents' plans, such as term limits for individuals serving as Speaker.

The 116th U.S. Congress has the greatest number of women, 102, and people of color in the country's history and also has the youngest average age.

Nancy Pelosi became the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House in 2007 and held the post until 2011. The Speaker of the House is the third-highest ranking person in the U.S. Federal government and automatically assumes the presidency if the President and Vice President are both killed or incapacitated.

Unlike Senators, who serve six-year terms, members of the House are elected for two-year terms. As such, every member of the House is either re-elected or replaced during every federal election.