Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) became the newest speaker of the House on Thursday after serving as minority leader for the last eight years.
Pelosi’s election as speaker also represents the first day of the new 116th Congress.
She has been the presumed next speaker ever since House Democrats were able to win a majority during the midterm elections in November.
She had previously served in the role along with being the minority leader.
She won the seat again with 220 members voting in her favor.
“Two months ago, the American people spoke, and demanded a new dawn,” Pelosi said after winning the vote. “They want a Congress that delivers results for the people, opening up opportunity and lifting up their lives… When our new members take the oath, our Congress will be refreshed, and our democracy will be strengthened by their optimism, idealism and patriotism of this transformative freshman class.”
Pelosi enters the role in the midst of a political stalemate, which has caused a partial government shutdown.
Democrats have refused to give President Donald Trump the money needed to secure America’s southern border with a physical barrier; Democrats have opposed giving him anything for the wall.
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He has remained adamant that the wall is necessary and will not sign any bills that don’t provide funding for it.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was also able to gain his party’s nomination to become minority leader.
He was officially voted into position after securing 192 votes from his party.
He was previously serving as majority leader under outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“It is with great joy that I rise today, as directed by the House Democratic Caucus, to place the name of Nancy Pelosi in nomination to become the next speaker,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries said from the floor when formally announcing her nomination on Thursday.
“Pelosi has a track record of legislative success that is unparalleled in modern American history.”
Senate Republicans also maintained their majority, so any shutdown solution will require some degree of bipartisanship. Pelosi will have to contend with the congressional split and the presidency over the next two years at least.
She did make an appeal to bipartisanship after winning her party’s nomination to become speaker on November 28.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed hope that they will find areas to work together shortly after the midterms. Infrastructure and further actions on criminal justice reform are two areas where that might actually happen.
But if the start of the session and ongoing political tensions are any indication, it could be a bumpy ride.
Pelosi plans immediately to bring up a package consisting of two bills that are intended to end the shutdown.
But the president opposes the plan, since it lacks border wall funding — making its final passage unlikely.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Pelosi pushed for the plan during a failed meeting with the president on Wednesday.
In all fairness, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be chosen Speaker of the House by the Democrats. If they give her a hard time, perhaps we will add some Republican votes. She has earned this great honor!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
The Democratic House is also poised to go after Trump over allegations of illegal conduct. Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team have been investigating alleged crimes by the president and his associates, such as colluding with Russian interests to sway the presidential election of 2016. The president has consistently called the investigation a witch hunt.
Pelosi, during a recent interview with ABC News, would not rule out trying to impeaching the president, and said it depends on what the investigation uncovers.
House Democrats could also launch investigations against the president and weigh his administration down through subpoenas and legal disputes. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) even reintroduced articles of impeachment against the president on the first day. His first attempt failed last year.
Pelosi did face opposition from the more progressive wing of the party — which wanted to replace the old guard with fresh people and ideas. Pelosi needed 218 votes to win.
The Washington Post had been tracking her support since the midterm elections on November 5. The tracker found that 22 members of the incoming Democratic caucus planned to oppose her bid, at nine percent by November 28.
But that decreased to just 16 members by the time the new session started.
House Democrats opposing her bid for speaker also released a letter on November 19 detailing why they wanted someone else. The letter praised her for being an instrumental leader but argued voters back home wanted change in Washington, D.C.
But the members who supported her signed their own “dear colleague” letter the same day.
Pelosi also earned endorsements from labor unions and veterans advocates. The bulk of national unions like the AFL-CIO, AFSCME and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) backed her.
A hundred gay rights group also endorsed her.
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