Nancy Pelosi recaptured the speaker’s gavel Thursday, starting another chapter in her historic career as House Democrats take power in the 116th Congress.
Despite some rumblings of ousting her following the midterm elections, Pelosi clinched the speakership with 220 votes. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy received the support of 192 Republicans. Eighteen lawmakers voted for someone else while three more voted “present.”
Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican and the Dean of the House of Representatives, administered the oath of office to Pelosi, who was surrounded by her grandchildren and dozens of lawmakers’ children on the speaker’s rostrum.
“I am particularly proud to be the woman Speaker of the House of this Congress, which marks the 100th year of women having the right to vote,” Pelosi reflected after accepting the speaker’s gavel from McCarthy. “And that we all have the ability and the privilege to serve with over 100 women members of Congress – the largest number in history.”
As McCarthy passed the speaker’s gavel to Pelosi, he credited her as “an experienced politician” and a “fighter for her cause.”
“Even when we disagree with one another completely — it is important to remember that we are bonded together in a common cause: our love for America,” McCarthy, R-Calif., said. “As fellow citizens and friends, let us lead together and show the people that we are truly their voice and their vote.”
Pelosi said she enters the 116th Congress “with a sense of great hope and confidence for the future, and deep humility and prayerfulness in the face of the challenges ahead.”
“When our new Members take the oath, our Congress will be refreshed, and our Democracy will be strengthened by the optimism, idealism and patriotism of this transformative Freshman Class,” she said. “Working together, we will redeem the promise of the American Dream for every family, advancing progress for every community.”
Ticking through some of her legislative priorities for the 116th Congress, the 17-term Democrat pledged that the new House majority’s mandate will be “for the people.”
“As we take the oath of office today, we accept responsibility as daunting and demanding as any that previous generations of leadership have faced,” she said. “Guided by the vision and values of our Founders, the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and the aspirations that we have for our children, let us meet that responsibility with wisdom, with courage and with grace.”
Moments before the vote, Pelosi told ABC News she was looking forward to swearing in “the most transformative Congress.”
She ignored a question about whether she plans to return to the White House on Friday to confer again with President Donald Trump on ending the partial government shutdown — just one of many battles she’s expected to lead against the president.
Pelosi prepared for the day’s pomp on the House floor with her senior staff, finalizing and rehearsing her gavel speech as she asserts herself as the most powerful woman in the U.S. government. She also greeted her family and guests who’ve come to see her be sworn in herself.
Sixteen members of Pelosi’s family were present for the speaker vote, including granddaughter Bella Kaufman, who jumped up and down with joy — holding hands with the 17-term lawmaker at the Democratic leadership table on the House floor — as her grandmother cast a vote for herself for House Speaker.
To win the speakership, Pelosi, a California Democrat, needed the support of 216 lawmakers, representing a simple majority of the 431 members present and voting Thursday.
Pelosi, 78, first served as House Speaker for four years from 2007 to 2011.
Only Frederick Muhlenberg, Henry Clay, John W. Taylor, Thomas Bracket Reed and Sam Rayburn have ever recaptured the gavel after serving as speaker, returning to the minority, and then ascending back to the majority. Rayburn was the most recent to achieve the feat – in 1955.
Pelosi, who lives in Georgetown on the Potomac waterfront at the Washington Harbour, usually rises by 5 a.m. and was up early again Thursday, according to an aide.
She attended a bipartisan congressional prayer service at St. Peter Catholic Church on Capitol Hill before delivering remarks at Congressional Black Caucus Foundation ceremony at Warner Theatre in downtown Washington.
Pelosi sported a pink asymmetrical dress, standing out among hundreds of lawmakers crammed onto the House floor for the vote.
Later Thursday following the speaker’s vote, she’ll participate in the ceremonial swearing-in of Members in the Rayburn Room of the Capitol, posing for pictures with members and their families from 3:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
Thursday evening, following votes to end the shutdown, she’ll extend brief greetings at a political event with an Emily’s List celebration at the Hyatt Regency.