Speaker sendoff: Pelosi granted new title and Capitol room
As Pelosi prepares to step down from her leadership role as the new Congress is ushered in come January, House Democrats are preparing to welcome in a new generation of leadership, likely to be led by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). But as Pelosi continues on as a rank-and-file member of the lower chamber, the party is signaling she will have an honored place within the House conference.
House Administration Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced a resolution on Tuesday that would designate the historic caucus room located in the House Cannon Building as the "Speaker Nancy Pelosi Caucus Room.’’ Such resolutions only require a simple majority in the House to be passed, meaning the legislation could take effect before the new year when Republicans take control of the House and Pelosi steps down from her leadership position.
The caucus room is significant among House Democrats as it is the room where the Jan. 6 Committee presented its findings from its investigation into the Capitol riot. Lofgren called the renaming a "small tribute to a towering figure" who “has been a singular force for good throughout her 35 years in the House of Representatives.”
However, not all members of the House Administration Committee were thrilled with the proposal.
"Congressman Steil is focused on reopening the People’s House that Speaker Pelosi has kept closed for far too long," said Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI), one of two Republicans on the committee, in a statement to the Washington Examiner.
“She has dedicated her life to the dignity of the American people, to the defense of our Democracy, and always foremost — to the children and the posterity of our Nation,” Lofgren said in a statement .
Meanwhile, lawmakers on the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee unanimously voted on Wednesday to grant Pelosi the honorific title of “Speaker Emerita,” with committee co-chairman Rep. Eric Swalwell calling her “the most consequential legislator Congress has ever known."
"We are lucky she will remain in our ranks,” he added.
The tributes come as House Democrats are set to hold their leadership elections on Wednesday when Jeffries is expected to succeed Pelosi as the party leader — a historic move that would make the New York Democrat the first black lawmaker to be elevated as the leader of one of the two major parties in either chamber of Congress.
Pelosi announced in mid-November she would be stepping from her leadership post but that she would remain in the House representing California’s 12th Congressional District.
Although Democrats reacted to the news by praising Pelosi for her decadeslong tenure, Republicans expressed their eagerness to move past her.
"House Republicans earned our Majority, and the Speaker’s gavel will no longer belong to Nancy Pelosi," said Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the third-ranking House Republican.
Pelosi had become a top target among Republicans during her 20 years as party leader, often tying Democratic candidates and lawmakers to the House speaker in election attack ads in an effort to sink their campaigns. Shortly after Pelosi announced she would be stepping down from leadership, many GOP lawmakers were quick to take shots at her.
"Thank you for tendering your resignation from House Leadership today, Speaker Pelosi, but I believe the American people fired you first," said Rep. Jeff Duncan in a tweet.
Just minutes after Pelosi announced her plans to step down, her two top deputies also signaled they would make way for the next generation of Democratic leadership. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced he would step down from the No. 2 post after the current session of Congress expires, and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) said he would remain in leadership but as assistant Democratic leader.
The moves will allow Jeffries, Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (D-MA), and Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Pete Aguilar (D-CA) to rise to the top three spots after the closed-door leadership elections on Wednesday.