US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced that she will not seek reelection to the Democratic Party’s congressional leadership after Republicans narrowly regained control of the chamber.
Pelosi, 82, who in 2007 became the first woman to serve as the speaker, has been the top House Democratic lawmaker for nearly 20 years. On Thursday, she said she would continue to serve in Congress to represent her constituents in California, but she is ready to pass the leadership torch to the younger generation.
Her decision comes less than a month after an intruder assaulted her husband at the couple’s home in San Francisco in what US authorities say was a politically-motivated attack.
“With great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” Pelosi said in a speech on the House floor. “For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect, and I’m grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility.”
Democrats will elect their leaders for the new Congress, which convenes early next year, at the end of the month. House Democratic Conference Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, a 52-year-old New York representative, is widely considered a frontrunner to replace Pelosi.
The top three Democrats in the House – Pelosi, House majority leader Steny Hoyer and majority whip Jim Clyburn – are in their 80s.
Hoyer also announced in a letter to Democratic lawmakers on Thursday that he will not seek a leadership position in the next Congress, saying that it was time for a “new generation of leaders”. Clyburn, too, suggested that he will leave his position as whip.
“Speaker Pelosi has left an indelible mark on Congress and the country, and I look forward to her continued service and doing whatever I can to assist our new generation of Democratic Leaders which I hope to be Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Pete Aguilar,” Clyburn wrote in a tweet.