Nancy Pelosi was elected to another term as Speaker of the House, in an ever-so-tight vote that reflected Democrats’ narrower majority in the next Congress.
Pelosi was elected 216-208 and will serve as speaker for her fourth term. Pelosi got the support of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others on the left flank of the party. Two Democrats voted for other candidates: Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) voted for Hakeem Jeffries, the New York Democrat, and Jared Golden (D-MD) voted for Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) voted present.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) garnered 209 votes.
The Covid-19 crisis overshadowed the proceedings. House members are required to wear masks when they are in the floor of the chamber, even when giving speeches. New members were allowed to invite just one guest to their swearing in, in a ceremony that in years past filled the galleries. Two years ago, when Pelosi returned to the speakership, such celebrities such as Tony Bennett and James Gunn showed up as her guests.
Sunday’s subdued proceedings were livened a bit when one of the new members, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, did wear a mask and were told to put one on. A congressman-elect, Luke Letlow, died last week of complications from Covid-19. Two House members recently tested positive and have been in quarantine, according to GovTrack. A plexiglass enclosure was set up on the floor so members who have potentially been exposed to the virus could vote.
Jeffries, who is chair of the House Democratic Caucus, nominated Pelosi as speaker, calling a “resilient leader” who has shepherded the House through the coronavirus pandemic.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), House Republican Caucus Chair, nominated McCarthy. She noted that the new Congress now “has more women members than any time in our history,” and credited him for Republican gains in the recent election.
Pelosi returned to the speakership in 2019, after serving in the post from 2007 to 2011. In the new Congress, Democrats will have 222 seats and Republicans will have 211. There are two vacancies.