Nancy Pelosi is re-elected as Speaker of the House by new Congress

  • The 117th Congress voted to re-elect Nancy Pelosi to another term as speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • Pelosi has been in the role since January 2019, when Democrats elected her after regaining majority control of the House.
  • She is the only woman to have ever served as House Speaker.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Nancy Pelosi will begin another term as speaker of the House of Representatives.

The 117th Congress, which met Sunday for its first session of the year, re-elected Pelosi to the position, securing the majority of the total votes cast. 

Pelosi, a Democrat from California, said back in October before the 2020 election that she would seek another term as House speaker if Democrats maintained a majority in Congress' lower chamber. 

She's been in the role since January 2019, when Democrats elected her after regaining majority control of the House. To date, she is the only woman to have served as House Speaker, and has been the most powerful elected woman lawmaker in the United States. With the confirmation of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Pelosi becomes the second-most powerful elected woman lawmaker.

Within the House, the speaker serves as the chamber's presiding officer and administrative head. 

To be elected speaker, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the total number of votes cast. Five Democrats defected from voting for Pelosi, either saying another name when asked to vote or saying "present" in lieu of a name. Republican reps generally voted for Kevin McCarthy, currently the House minority leader. Several representatives were absent because of concerns related to the coronavirus. 

Since the appointment of the 116th Congress, Pelosi has been a somewhat controversial figure in the House. 

She and progressive Congressional members have in the past engaged in feuds. Some of these tensions have escalated and carried over in recent weeks, as new and old progressive "Squad" members gave signals that they might shun her. 

Earlier in December, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York ripped into Pelosi, saying neither she nor Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer should lead the Democratic arm.

"We need new leadership in the Democratic Party," Ocasio-Cortez said in a podcast. During her first vote, Ocasio-Cortez withheld her vote. During the second call for her vote, she voted for Pelosi. Last year, Ocasio-Cortez also voted for Pelosi for House Speaker.

And last week, just before the start of the first session, then Reps.-elect Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman declined to specify whether they would vote for Pelosi to be re-elected to the role. 

Speaking to CNN's Dana Bash, neither Bush nor Bowman gave a concrete answer when asked whether they'd support her re-election effort in the House. 

"I am going to make sure that voices of the people of St. Louis are heard and we have what we need. And so you will find out then," Bush said.

While Bowman and Bush had previously been noncommittal, they both ultimately cast a vote for Pelosi. The first time the vote was called, Bush withhold her vote. When prompted to the second time after the whole House roll was called, Bush voted for Pelosi.

Pelosi's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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