US Speaker Nancy Pelosi steps down from leadership to make way for nextgen

WASHINGTON: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of the most powerful, distinguished, and longest serving politicians in the American political pantheon, is stepping down from the leadership role.
Pelosi, 82, also the first woman in American history to become Speaker, said in a speech on the floor of the House on Thursday that “the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect.”
Pelosi will continue to be a member of the House — she was elected in the just-concluded midterm election — but will guide and mentor others to the leadership roles, including Hakeem Jeffries, who is expected to become the minority leader since Democrats narrowly lost the chamber.
Accolades flowed from many quarters for the Democratic leader, whose unique story of entering politics in her 40s after nurturing her five children and rising to the very top is inspirational for many women. “When I think of Nancy Pelosi, I think of dignity. History will note her as the most consequential Speaker of the House of Representatives in history – she is first, last, and always for the people. America owes her a debt of gratitude for her service, patriotism, and dignity,” President Biden said in a statement.
Elected multiple times from California’s 11th district that includes San Francisco, Pelosi has close ties with the Tibetan leadership in India and looked up to Mahatma Gandhi, whose life and work she discovered in school when her teacher asked her during an argument, “who do you think you are? Mahatma Gandhi?” She traveled to Dharamsala to meet the Dalai Lama, honored him in the US Congress, and made sure the Tibetan cause — and US support for Taiwan was not forgotten in Washington, much to China’s irritation.
The first woman to be twice House Speaker, a position that put her second in line to the White House (after the vice-president) in the event the President is incapacitated, she stood up to strong men in a still-sexist era, guiding landmark legislation (including President Obama’s affordable care act) and navigating the Democratic agenda. In one of the most memorable images of the Trump era, she is seen facing up to him across a table and wagging her finger at the then President following an argument. Cartoons and memes frequently showed her beating up Trump, including one in which she has impaled him as she walks over him in her stilettos.
In recent years, there was pressure on Pelosi to step down given her advancing years, although there are many male lawmakers in Congress who are well past 80, even closing in on 90. Her decision to step down comes weeks after her husband, Paul Pelosi, was violently attacked in their San Francisco home by an intruder.
Pelosi said she felt guilty about the attack because the intruder was looking for her, and the incident played a major role in her decision.

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