After spending the past 20 years as her party’s congressional leader, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) confirmed on Thursday that she would be stepping down from the position at the end of the current legislative session.
Pelosi, the first woman to serve as House speaker, is 82 — and many in her own party have been pressuring her to step aside and allow a younger lawmaker to take the lead.
Although she explained in her speech this week that she plans to continue serving as a member of Congress, she acknowledged that the “hour has come for a new generation to lead” the House Democrats.
“Never did I think I’d go from homemaker to House speaker,” she said of her two-decade leadership stint.
As for who will take her place, there are a few contenders who have emerged as early favorites.
Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark (D-MA), who is more than 20 years Pelosi’s junior, is one likely choice, as is 52-year-old Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) are expected to retain leadership positions, but both are around Pelosi’s age and neither are considered a likely successor.
While 82-year-old Clyburn said that he does not intend to seek a top leadership post, Hoyer, who is 83, said on Wednesday that he has not made such a decision.
Pelosi will leave behind a mixed legacy, with many on the left applauding her efforts to push through landmark legislation such as the Affordable Care Act as well as her role in two impeachment efforts against former President Donald Trump. Nevertheless, she has been engaged in a number of intraparty spats over the years — particularly with younger, more progressive lawmakers in her caucus.
Although she has been a bitter foil for congressional Republicans, former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) offered a generous sendoff in a tweet shortly after her announcement.
I tip my cap as I welcome @speakerpelosi to the former speaker’s club and congratulate her on a historic career in the House.
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) November 17, 2022
Republicans secured the 218 seats needed to regain a majority in the House’s upcoming session and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is the likeliest choice to become the next speaker even as he struggles to gain the support of some in the party’s far-right wing.