Progressives Push Nancy Pelosi Over the Finish Line in Narrow Reelection as House Speaker

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was narrowly reelected for a fourth term as House Speaker on Sunday, The Associated Press reports.

Pelosi, who has been the House Democratic leader since 2003, was reelected with 216 votes while Republican leader Kevin McCarthy got 209 votes.

The vote was narrower than previous years after the Democrats’ majority shrunk to 222-211 following November’s elections.

Progressive lawmakers who did not commit to backing Pelosi ultimately voted for her once their votes became necessary.

Rep. Jared Golden of Maine backed Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth for speaker while Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb cast his vote for New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. Three Democrats who voted against Pelosi last time voted present on Sunday while Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings, who is battling cancer, missed the vote.

Progressives defend vote:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said it was important for progressives to support Pelosi “at a time when the Republican Party is attempting an electoral coup.”

“Our country needs stability right now,” said newly-elected progressive New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman. “It’s really important for the Democratic Party to come together and figure out not just how to govern for the 117th, but going forward for the country.”

McCarthy criticizes:

Though the minority leader typically ceremonially hands the speaker the gavel, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy used the moment to criticize Pelosi for leading “the least productive Congress in nearly 50 years.”

McCarthy said the Republican pickups in November’s election were a “wake-up call.”

“The question I ask of this majority: were you listening?” he said.

Pelosi, meanwhile, vowed to focus on the coronavirus pandemic in her comments.

“We accept a responsibility as daunting and demanding as any that previous generations of leadership have faced,” she said. “Our most urgent priority will continue to be defeating the coronavirus. And defeat it, we will.”


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