×

Nancy Pelosi Re-Elected Speaker as Democrats Take Control of House

WASHINGTON — Nancy Pelosi returned to the role of House Speaker on Thursday, as Democrats took control of Congress in what is likely to be a new and powerful check on President Donald Trump.

She drew 220 votes, enough to claim the speakership, and hugged fellow members in the chamber amid cheers as the tally was announced. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) garnered 192 votes. Fifteen Democrats voted for someone else, as they had promised to seek new leadership in their campaigns.

Entertainer Tony Bennett, a longtime friend of Pelosi’s, was among the many guests and family members who packed into the House chamber to watch as she was elected to lead the new Congress. He sat in the front row of the House gallery, with his wife Susan and near Pelosi’s husband, Paul, members of the Pelosi family, and reality host Tim Gunn, who sat next to Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead.

Pelosi served from 2007 to 2011, and led Democrats in the House for the past eight years. She will be second in line for the presidency, and is the first and only woman to serve as speaker.

During the roll call, Pelosi at times appeared anxious, and at others looked toward members and smiled as they cast their votes for her. She occasionally checked with Steny Hoyer, the incoming majority leader, as he kept a tally of votes.

The most immediate task for the House will be to vote on legislation to reopen the government. Democrats plan to vote on a plan to fund most of the government through the end of the year, and Homeland Security until early next month. But Trump has been steadfast that he will not sign such legislation as it does not contain funding for his new border wall.

The breakdown of the new House is 235 Democrats and 199 Republicans, with one vacancy, and 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and two independents in the Senate.

In November, Democrats flipped 40 seats, including four in Orange County, to take control from Republicans. But Democrats lost two seats in the Senate.

In the House chamber, children and other family members were allowed on the floor, and some kids danced in the aisles and sat in member seats in the wait before the roll call vote on the speakership.

Katie Porter, one of the new Democrats representing an Orange County seat, sat between her kids, just behind Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.). Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) stood in the aisle and gave his newborn daughter a gentle bounce back and forth. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) held his twin daughters in his arms as stood up and cast his vote for Pelosi.

As Pelosi herself voted, for herself, her granddaughter held her hand and jumped up and down in excitement, drawing laughs in the chamber.

The casual nature of the proceedings was also reflected in one of the nomination speeches, by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), a new member of Democratic leadership, who finished his speech by saying, “House Democrats are down with NDP.” As the roll call began, Pelosi hugged Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), visiting from the other side of the Capitol.

The new Congress will be the most diverse ever — 126 women — representing almost a quarter of lawmakers. That includes 43 women of color in the House, as well as a slew of younger members. They include the youngest women elected, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Abby Finkenauer of Iowa.

The gains in diversity have been among Democrats, as the number of Republican women in the House declined by 10 seats, from 23 to 13. That was apparent just by the attire — one side of the chamber dominated by men in grayish and blue suits, and red ties; the other with a burst of Technicolor as female members wore suits and dresses in white, blue, purple, and fuchsia.

New senators were also sworn in on Thursday, including Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, elected to the Senate from Utah, and Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat who flipped a Senate seat in Arizona. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was elected president pro tem, third in line for the presidency.

Popular on Variety

More Politics

  • U.K. Freelancers

    U.K. Government Faces Pressure From Industry on Economic Measures for Freelancers

    The U.K. government is facing increasing pressure from the creative industries after it emerged that economic measures set out for the self-employed last week by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak have yawning gaps in them. The measures may have come as a welcome move for many creative industries workers, but not all are eligible [...]

  • Andrew Yang

    Andrew Yang Sets Launch of Issues-Oriented Podcast 'Yang Speaks' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Andrew Yang bowed out of the U.S. presidential race, but the businessman-turned-politico wants to keep his policy agenda on the national media stage. Less than two months after ending his 2020 presidential campaign, he’s set plans to launch a new podcast, “Yang Speaks,” in partnership with podcast studio and network Cadence13, Variety has learned. The [...]

  • Studio Babelsberg

    Terminated 'Matrix 4,' 'Uncharted' Film Crews Demand Help From Studio Babelsberg

    Germany’s Studio Babelsberg is seeking to find a settlement with hundreds of film crew members following the shutdown earlier this month of Warner Bros.’ “The Matrix 4” and Sony Pictures’ “Uncharted” amid the coronavirus outbreak. The production stop has left many independent film crew members without pay and more than 300 have formed a working [...]

  • Queen Elizabeth

    Queen Elizabeth's Footman Diagnosed with Coronavirus (Report)

    Coronavirus remains firmly in the royal orbit as one of Queen Elizabeth’s footmen has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. The royal footman, who regularly walks the Queen’s dogs and was in regular contact with the monarch, is now in self-isolation after falling ill with coronavirus, according to British tabloid The Sun. The revelation comes just [...]

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

    House Passes $2 Trillion Coronavirus Bill as Lawmakers Promise Additional Aid

    The House of Representatives passed the $2 trillion stimulus package on Friday, even as lawmakers said another rescue package would be needed. The bill passed on a voice vote. President Donald Trump signed the measure on Friday afternoon in the Oval Office. Most Americans will receive a one-time payment of $1,200 plus $500 per child. [...]

  • Chuck Schumer

    Senate Approves Massive $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Bill

    The Senate voted on Wednesday to approve a $2 trillion bill to cushion the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, including hundreds of billions for companies and a massive expansion of unemployment benefits. The Senate voted 96-0 to approve the measure, after two votes earlier in week failed along party lines. The House of Representatives [...]

  • Mitch McConnell

    Senate Leaders Reach Deal on $2 Trillion Coronavirus Bill

    Senate leaders and the White House have reached a deal on a $2 trillion stimulus package, which includes a large increase in unemployment insurance and hundreds of billions of dollars to aid companies harmed by the coronavirus pandemic. Shortly before 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on the Senate floor [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content