First female Speaker of the House, first woman to lead a majority party in congress
"Nancy Pelosi is an American politician serving as the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives since 2011, representing California's 12th congressional district. She previously served as the 52nd House Speaker from 2007 to 2011, the only woman to do so. As Speaker, she attained the highest rank of any female politician in American history.
A member of the Democratic Party, Pelosi represents California's 12th congressional district, which consists of four-fifths of the city and county of San Francisco. The district was numbered as the 5th during her first three terms in the House, and as the 8th from 1993 to 2013. She served as the House Minority Whip from 2002 to 2003, and was House Minority Leader from 2003 to 2007, holding the post during the 108th and 109th Congresses. Pelosi is the first woman, the first Californian, and the first Italian-American to lead a major party in Congress. After the Democrats took control of the House in 2007 and increased their majority in 2009, Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House for the 110th and 111th Congresses.
On November 17, 2010, Pelosi was elected as the Democratic Leader by House Democrats and therefore the Minority Leader in the Republican-controlled House for the 112th Congress.
Pelosi was involved with politics from an early age. In her outgoing remarks as the 52nd Speaker of the House, Pelosi said that she had attended John F. Kennedy's inaugural address when he became President in January 1961. She graduated… from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. in 1962, with a B.A. in political science. Pelosi interned for Senator Daniel Brewster (D-Maryland) alongside future House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer… After moving to San Francisco, Pelosi worked her way up in Democratic politics. She became a friend of one of the leaders of the California Democratic Party, 5th District Congressman Phillip Burton. In 1976, Pelosi was elected as a Democratic National Committee member from California, a position she would hold until 1996. She was elected as party chair for Northern California on January 30, 1977, and for the California Democratic Party, which she held from 1981 until 1983.
That same year, she ran to succeed Chuck Manatt as chair of the Democratic National Committee, but lost to then-DNC Treasurer Paul G. Kirk. Pelosi left her post as DSCC finance chair in 1986…
Pelosi represents one of the safest Democratic districts in the country. Democrats have held the seat since 1949 and Republicans, who currently make up only 13 percent of registered voters in the district, have not made a serious bid for the seat since the early 1960s. She won the seat in her own right in 1988 and has been reelected 10 more times with no substantive opposition, winning by an average of 80 percent of the vote. She has not participated in candidates' debates since her 1987 race against Harriet Ross. The strongest challenge Pelosi has faced was in 2016 when Preston Picus polled 19.1% and Pelosi won with 80.9%.
For the 2000 and 2002 election cycles, she held the distinction of contributing the most among members of Congress to other congressional campaigns, in part because she is in a safe district and does not need the campaign funds.
In the House, she served on the Appropriations and Intelligence Committees, and was the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee until her election as Minority Leader…
In 2001, Pelosi was elected the House Minority Whip, second-in-command to Minority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri. She was the first woman in U.S. history to hold that post.
In 2002, after Gephardt resigned as minority leader to seek the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential election, Pelosi was elected to replace him, becoming the first woman to lead a major party in the House.
In the 2006 Midterm Elections, the Democrats took control of the House when they picked up 31 seats. On November 16, 2006, Pelosi was unanimously chosen by her caucus as the Democratic candidate for Speaker, effectively making her Speaker-elect. While the Speaker is elected by the full House membership, in modern practice the election is a formality, since the Speaker always comes from the majority party...
Pelosi [sat] with Vice President Dick Cheney behind President George W. Bush at the 2007 State of the Union Address making history as the first woman to sit behind the podium at such an address. President Bush acknowledged this by beginning his speech with the words, "Tonight, I have a high privilege and distinct honor of my own – as the first President to begin the State of the Union message with these words: Madam Speaker".
With her election, Pelosi became the first woman, the first Californian, and the first Italian-American to hold the Speakership. She is also the second Speaker from a state west of the Rocky Mountains. The first was Washington's Tom Foley, the last Democrat to hold the post before Pelosi.
During her speech, she discussed the historical importance of being the first female to hold the position of Speaker:
This is a historic moment – for the Congress, and for the women of this country. It is a moment for which we have waited more than 200 years. Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights. But women weren't just waiting; women were working. Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal. For our daughters and granddaughters, today, we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters, the sky is the limit, anything is possible for them…
Pelosi was re-elected Speaker in 2009.
Though Pelosi was re-elected by a comfortable margin in the 2010 midterm elections, the Democrats lost 63 seats and ceded control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans. Despite the electoral setback suffered by her party, Pelosi sought to continue leading the House Democratic Caucus in the position of Minority Leader, the office she held prior to becoming Speaker. After Pelosi's disparate intra-party opposition failed to pass a motion to delay the leadership vote, Pelosi was elected Minority Leader for the 112th Congress. On November 14, 2012, Pelosi announced she would remain on as Democratic leader.
Tim Ryan initiated a bid to replace Pelosi as House Minority Leader on November 17, 2016, prompted by colleagues following the 2016 presidential election. After Pelosi agreed to give more leadership opportunities to junior members, she defeated Ryan by a vote of 134–63 on November 30…
In February 2018, Pelosi broke the record for longest speech in the House of Representatives when she spent more than eight hours recounting stories from so-called DREAMers - individuals who were brought to the United States as minors by undocumented immigrants and raised here - to object to a budget deal which would raise spending caps without addressing the future of DACA recipients, which were at risk of deportation by the Drumpf administration.
In November 2011, 60 Minutes alleged that Pelosi and several other members of Congress had used information they gleaned from closed sessions to make money on the stock market. The program cited Pelosi's purchases of Visa stock while a bill that would limit credit card fees was in the House. Pelosi denied the allegations and called the report "a right-wing smear." When the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (or STOCK Act) was introduced the next year, Pelosi voted for the bill and lauded its passing. Of Representatives Louise Slaughter and Tim Walz, who drafted the bill, Pelosi said they "shined a light on a gaping hole in our ethics laws and helped close it once and for all." (1)