Pelosi Will Remain as House Democratic Leader

PHOTO: House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks to reporters during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in this June 16, 2011 file photo in Washington, DC.
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Nancy Pelosi will continue to serve as the House Democratic Leader, she announced in a closed-door meeting with fellow Democrats Wednesday morning.

Ten years ago today, Nancy Pelosi was elected as the first woman to lead a political party in Congress. According to a senior aide, when Pelosi first broke the news to her caucus, she said, "I will happily place my name for nomination for leader."

But with all the newly elected members standing behind her, there is no doubt that Pelosi has the support to continue as minority leader.

Caucus members broke into chants of "Two more years!" after Pelosi made the announcement.

At a news conference later on Capitol Hill, Pelosi was surrounded by dozens of House Democratic women, Pelosi said the record number of women lawmakers and fighting for issues important to them helped convince her to stay on as leader. The Democratic caucus, for the first time, is comprised by a majority of women and minorities.

"From the standpoint of the victory we had at the polls I wouldn't think of walking away," she said."The vitality of the 49 new members -- about 25 percent of our caucus is brand new. I want to see them succeed here, and I want to see them return."

The 72-year-old San Francisco congresswoman told colleagues she will continue to lead a united Democratic caucus and fight in deficit reduction negotiations to protect Social Security and Medicare, while asking the wealthiest Americans to pay more in taxes.

"In order to reignite the American dream…to build ladders of opportunity for those who want to work hard, play by the rules, take responsibility, to have those ladders have sides about small business and entrepreneurship and a strong and thriving middle class, we have work to do," she said. "I'm so proud to stand here with you, my sisters."

Pelosi was House Speaker when Democrats held control of the House from 2007 through 2011 and stayed in the top Democratic job for their two years in the minority. Her goal of returning to the speaker's chair after the 2012 elections is unfulfilled, however, since Democrats did not reclaim the majority Nov. 6th.

Pelosi's husband, Paul Pelosi, made a rare appearance on Capitol Hill to hear the announcement to the caucus. She told reporters that she did not make up her mind until Tuesday.

"I had to talk this over with my family because it is an enormous time commitment," she said. "Now my brother Tommy wasn't as keen on it as my children were. I guess he wanted to spend more time with me, but my kids were busy!"

Read more about Nancy Pelosi.

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Republicans released a tongue-in-cheek statement praising Pelosi's decision.

"There is no better person to preside over the most liberal House Democratic Caucus in history than the woman who is solely responsible for relegating it to a prolonged minority status," said Paul Lindsay, communications director of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "This decision signals that House Democrats have absolutely no interest in regaining the trust and confidence of the American people who took the Speaker's gavel away from Nancy Pelosi in the first place."

With Pelosi still in the top job, the House Democrats' leadership structure is expected to remain mostly intact. Democrats hold their leadership election on November 29.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, who was just elected to a 17th term, is expected to remain as the Democratic Whip. Rep. Xavier Becerra, R-Calif., is a lock for Democratic Caucus chair, replacing Rep. John Larson, who is term-limited due to caucus rules.

Becerra, who is vice chairman of the caucus in this session of Congress, is likely to be replaced by Rep. Joseph Crowley, a Democrat from New York. Crowley is running against Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado and Rep. Barbara Lee of California for the post, although one Democratic aide said it "sounds like Crowley has support he needs" to lock up the post.

Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina is likely to stay as the assistant leader. Rep. Steve Israel, New York, will remain as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Rep. Marcia Fudge is also running unopposed to replace the term-limited Rep. Emanuel Cleaver as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Across the aisle, now that Republicans have held onto their majority, questions remain for chairmanships of key committees as well.

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