After leading the Democratic caucus for two decades, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is stepping down from leadership.
Pelosi made the announcement Thursday morning on the floor of the House, tracing her journey from child visitor to D.C. power broker. “I will never forget the first time I saw the Capitol. I was 6 years old,” she began. “Never did I think I’d go from homemaker to House Speaker.”
After detailing the way Congress has grown to be more representative of America, Pelosi made it official. “With great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress.”
While Pelosi steps down from leadership, she said she will remain in Congress representing her San Francisco district. Earlier in the day, Puck News reported that Pelosi will likely serve an emeritus role, using her remaining time in Congress to oversee a leadership transition—one to come amid what’s poised to be a chaotic narrow GOP House majority.
The California representative first rose to leadership in 2001, being elected House minority whip. She was the first woman in U.S. history to hold the role. One year later, Pelosi was elected to lead the Democratic caucus—becoming the first woman to lead a major party in either congressional chamber.
Now the race to fill Pelosi’s shoes begins. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, 83, and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, 82, both sit atop Democratic leadership. Punchbowl News reports that Hoyer will also be stepping down from leadership while still remaining in Congress, and will back New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries for party leader. Clyburn has not yet expressed his intentions.
Jeffries, along with Representatives Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Pete Aguilar of California, are largely seen as Democrats preparing to step in as a new trio leading the caucus.
Jeffries, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and chairman of the House Democratic caucus, has been laying the groundwork for years in preparing to replace Pelosi. Like Pelosi’s, his ascendance would make history, as Jeffries would be the first Black party leader in either the House or Senate.
This piece has been updated.