“Diversity is necessary at the table”: Nancy Pelosi’s last official acts
Rep. Nancy Pelosi made history in 2007 when she become the first woman ever to serve as Speaker of the House.
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is saying farewell to her role as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, after two decades leading the Democrats in the lower chamber of Congress.
Pelosi announced she would not run again for a Democratic leadership position in 2023. House Democrats elected Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) to take her place in the 118th Congress. He will become the first black American to lead a major political party. Since Republicans gained control of the House in 2023, Jeffries will serve as House Minority Leader.
“As Speaker of the House I have awesome power.... now transitioning to a different role I expect to have strong influence,” said Pelosi. “But not on my members. Just in terms of encouraging more women for example to run.”
The California Democrat first joined leadership as a minority whip in 2002 and she was elevated to minority leader in 2003. Pelosi made history in 2007 when she became the 52nd Speaker of the House and the first woman ever elected to the position. She made history once again in 2019 when she regained the position, the first person to ever do so in more than six decades.
“In terms of women, though, they are always asking me... what advice do you have? I say, the best advice I ever had that I extend to you is be yourself. You’re the only person in the history of the world who is you,” said Pelosi during an event where her portrait as speaker was unveiled. “What you have is authentic, is special, is unique. And, that diversity is necessary at the table. Also, I want women to have confidence. So sometimes when I act a little more, shall we say, like myself, it’s because I want them to know it’s okay to assert yourself, to have confidence in what you bring to the table. And, also to understand your uniqueness. So, I get overwhelmed by women telling me how I’ve given them confidence or I’m their role model... And I said, don’t worry about any role model. Be yourself.”
As Speaker, she is second in the line of succession to the presidency, following Vice President Kamala Harris.
Pelosi’s powerful position has also made her a target for violent threats. Her office was ransacked on January 6, 2021 during the Capitol insurrection, with protestors calling out her name, and searching the historic building for her. As Speaker, she was evacuated along with other top leaders. In October 28, her husband was attacked with a hammer at their home by a man who investigators claimed said he was looking for ‘Nancy.’ Following the attack, a federal funding bill included a provision to allow former Speakers to have protective details for up to a year after leaving office.
Pelosi is credited with leading the nation following the January 6, 2021 insurrection and for spearheading legislation such as the Affordable Care Act and the American Rescue Plan.
Speaker Pelosi has represented San Francisco for 35 years and for 19 of those she has led House Democrats. In 2013 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls. In 1848, women gathered in the upstate New York Town to make the “Declaration of Sentiments,” seen by many as the birthplace of the women’s rights movement.
Pelosi noted that the number of women and minorities in Congress have grown over her time in office. She hopes that will continue to grow over time.
“I take great pride that our caucus is about 70% women, people of color, LGBTQ. The beautiful diversity of America,” she said.
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