The U.S. House of Representatives voted to re-elect Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) as the speaker on Jan. 3 to lead the chamber’s narrowest majority in two decades.
The House voted 216-209 to hand Pelosi the gavel.
Five Democrats defected. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich), Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) voted “present.” Two Democrats voted for candidates other than Pelosi. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) voted for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) voted for Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)
“In a time marked by historically low trust in government, new voices are necessary to moving forward and achieving real progress,” Spanberger said in a statement. “Last Congress, I kept my promise to vote for new leadership upon my swearing-in—and in this Congress, I remain consistent in my commitment to ushering in new leadership. Accordingly, I did not vote for Speaker Pelosi.”
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) initially did not respond when called to vote for Pelosi. Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist who was sworn into Congress earlier the same morning, is a member of the expanding progressive “squad.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the de facto leader of the squad, was also absent from the floor when it came to her turn to vote. Both later voted for Pelosi.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who served as the House Minority Leader during the last session, ran against Pelosi. He will again lead the House Republicans as the minority leader.
Pelosi has led the House Democrats since 2003 and was widely expected to retain her post despite a quiet effort to oust her. Democrats held a 222-211 edge over Republicans ahead of the vote and the anti-Pelosi effort counted on absences which could give the GOP the edge.
No Democrat stepped forward to challenge Pelosi ahead of the vote.
The Democrats saw a dozen incumbents lose during the 2020 general election and did not defeat a single Republican representative.
One House race in New York is still being decided and there is a vacancy in Louisiana after GOP Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, 41, died after a heart attack following an operation related to contracting COVID-19.
Pelosi recently suggested anew that these would be her final two years as speaker, referencing a statement she made two years ago in which she said she would step aside after this period.
The speaker’s election came three days before the joint session on Jan. 6 during which Congress would vet the Electoral College votes for the presidential election. Dozens of House Republicans have committed to lodge objections to the Democratic electors from states in which President Donald Trump has disputed the outcome.