House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday she will no longer lead the House's Democratic caucus, one day after Republicans clinched the majority following last week’s midterm election. Pelosi made the announcement from the floor of the House on Thursday.
She added that she will continue serving in Congress. Pelosi also noted that when she entered Congress in 1987, there were only a dozen Democratic women in Congress. That number is now over 90.
"When I first came to the floor at six years old, never would I have thought that someday I would go from homemaker to House speaker," Pelosi said.
Pelosi was the first woman ever to lead the House of Representatives.
"History will note she is the most consequential Speaker of the House of Representatives in our history," President Joe Biden said in a statement on Thursday. "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."
Her deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill said Thursday that she was still mulling her decision as of Wednesday night.
"The Speaker took two versions of her speech home last night as has been reported. Anybody who tells you they know what she will do is a liar," he said early Thursday.
Democrats will narrowly lose control of the House, although the party outperformed most expectations. Historically, the party in control of the White House performs poorly in midterm elections. Depending on the results of several races yet to be called, Republicans will likely have a single-digit advantage in the House.
“This year, House Democrats defied expectations with an excellent performance: running their races with courage, optimism and determination,” Pelosi said on Wednesday. “In the next Congress, House Democrats will continue to play a leading role in supporting President Biden’s agenda — with strong leverage over a scant Republican majority.”
As House Democrats look for their next head, Steny Hoyer, who is currently the House majority leader and is the second-highest ranking Democrat, said he will also not seek leadership in the next term.
Pelosi earned a 19th term in Congress last week after winning her district with 84% of the vote.
She has led House Democrats since 2003, with two stints as House speaker from 2007-2011 and 2019-2023.
The White House said President Biden spoke with Pelosi this morning and congratulated her on her tenure as speaker.
Given her stature as the top House Democrat over the last two decades, she has been a constant foil for Republicans.
She also has been the target of violence, most notably on January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol, and last month when her husband Paul Pelosi was attacked during a home invasion.
Pelosi's announcement comes two days after Republicans said they intend to select current Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy as House speaker in January.