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Nancy Pelosi Elected Speaker as Democrats Take Control of House

Category: Political News,Politics

WASHINGTON — On a day of pomp and pageantry, ebullient Democrats assumed control of the House on Thursday and elected Representative Nancy Pelosi of California to be speaker, returning her to a historic distinction as the first woman to hold the post at the pinnacle of power in Congress, second in line to the presidency.

The investiture of Ms. Pelosi, whose talent for legislative maneuvering is surpassed only by her skill at keeping her fractious party in line, placed her at the fulcrum of divided government opposite an increasingly combative President Trump. With Mr. Trump, his presidential campaign and his businesses all under federal and state investigations, her handling of him will likely define the 116th Congress.

Her election came on Day 13 of a government shutdown that has dramatized the shifting dynamics in Washington. Mr. Trump’s insistence on a wall on the Mexican border has come to embody harsh immigration policies that will run headlong into newly energized Democratic opposition.

[Read here for all the day’s events.]

But on Thursday, if only for a few hours, the dark clouds of divisive politics parted long enough for a peaceful transition of power from Republicans to Democrats, as a majority of lawmakers rose in turn from their seats on the House floor to utter Ms. Pelosi’s name and formally award her the gavel she relinquished in 2011 after a Tea Party wave swept Republicans to power.

Scores of newly elected Democrats in the most racially, ethnically and gender-diverse class in history were on hand for the occasion, some of them clad in the traditional or religious garb of their communities — a Palestinian thobe, a Muslim hijab or head scarf, a Pueblo dress. The new members provided the visual tableau of change in a chamber that has for centuries been overwhelmingly white and male.

“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,” Ms. Pelosi said in prepared remarks to be delivered from the House floor. “Working together, we will redeem the promise of the American dream for every family, advancing progress for every community.”

Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, nominated Ms. Pelosi to be speaker, prompting a standing ovation from most of the Democratic side of the House and much of the spectators in the gallery.

In a rousing speech, Mr. Jeffries extolled Ms. Pelosi as “a woman of faith, a loving wife a mother of five, a grandmother of nine, a sophisticated strategist, a legendary legislator, a voice for the voiceless, a defender of the disenfranchised, a powerful, profound, prophetic, principled public servant.”

“House Democrats are down with N.D.P.,” Mr. Jeffries said, using Ms. Pelosi’s initials, and referencing a song by Naughty By Nature, O.P.P.

Ms. Pelosi suffered more than a dozen defections: freshman Representatives Anthony Brindisi of New York, Jason Crow of Colorado, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Ben McAdams of Utah, Max Rose of New York, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Jared Golden of Maine, as well as Representatives Jim Cooper of Tennessee, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania and Kathleen Rice of New York.

She became the first person since Representative Sam Rayburn of Texas, more than 60 years ago, to reclaim the position of House speaker.

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