Pelosi Leaves Open the Prospect of Another Term as Speaker Despite Past Promises

Pelosi Leaves Open the Prospect of Another Term as Speaker Despite Past Promises
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attends a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, on Aug. 5, 2022. (Richard A. Brooks/AFP via Getty Images)
Joseph Lord

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) refused to commit to not seeking another term as speaker if Democrats retain the House next year, despite past promises that this term would be her last as the number one House Democrat.

Asked by a reporter during a Sept. 14 press conference whether she would mount another bid to be speaker next year, Pelosi gave an ambiguous answer.

“That’s not a question,” she said curtly.

“My purpose right now is just to win that election,” Pelosi added. “Nothing less is at stake than our democracy.”

Pelosi has already violated past promises to step aside. In 2018, Pelosi vowed to her caucus that the 116th Congress would be her last term as speaker in order to make room at the helm for new faces in the party.

She quickly reneged on that, however, when Democrats retained the House by a slim margin in 2020 and she was made speaker for yet another term.

Pelosi has served in the House since 1987. In 2001, she was made House minority whip and has remained in a leadership post within the party ever since, moving to the position of House minority leader in 2002. Her first term as speaker came in 2007, and since then Pelosi has served as either speaker or minority leader, frustrating Democrats who wanted the party to make room for younger lawmakers.

Last month, Pelosi announced her intention to seek reelection in 2022.

“While we’ve made progress, much more needs to be done to improve people’s lives,” Pelosi said in a video announcing her reelection bid, ending months of speculation. “Our democracy is at risk because of assaults on the truth, the assault on the U.S. Capitol, and the state-by-state assault on voting rights. This election is crucial. Nothing less is at stake than our democracy.”

It remains to be seen, if Democrats retain the majority, whether the party will finally be too divided on Pelosi to return the speaker’s gavel to her.

Still, the odds are tough for Democrats to retain control in the 118th Congress.

As inflation continues steadily, major cities across the United States confront a wave of violent crime, the supply chain remains fragile, and thousands of illegal aliens enter the country every day in contravention of federal law, observers widely predict that Republicans will take the House next term.

Currently, Democrats hold the lower chamber by only a handful of seats, and midterms have historically been favorable for the party not in the White House.