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Nancy Pelosi reelected as House speaker as Democratic majority narrows

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urges Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass the $2,000 stimulus checks to Americans during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. December 30, 2020.

Leah Millis | Reuters

The House reelected Nancy Pelosi as speaker on Sunday, extending the Democrat’s second stint leading the chamber.

Pelosi, the only woman to serve as speaker, will hold the job for a fourth term. The 80-year-old reclaimed the gavel in 2019 after eight years of Republican control. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California will lead the GOP for a second term.

Pelosi got 216 votes, while McCarthy received 209. Five Democrats did not support Pelosi. Three voted “present,” one supported Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and another backed Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.

The California Democrat leads a thinner majority after the GOP flipped at least 10 seats in the 2020 elections. Her party entered Sunday with an estimated 222 members, four more than the 218 needed for a majority in the full House.

Pelosi and President-elect Joe Biden will push to address issues including coronavirus relief, health care and infrastructure in the new Congress. The Tuesday runoff elections in Georgia, which will decide whether Republicans hold the Senate, will shape how much the pair can accomplish.

Before the new Congress opened Sunday, Pelosi said she was “enormously grateful” to get nominated for speaker again.

“We begin the new Congress during a time of extraordinary difficulty,” she wrote to House Democrats. “Each of our communities has been drastically affected by the pandemic and economic crisis: 350,000 tragic deaths, over 20 million infections, millions without jobs – a toll almost beyond comprehension.”

Pelosi and Biden have said they will push for another round of pandemic aid in the coming weeks. They described the $900 billion package signed into law last month as a down payment.

Pelosi has insisted her party’s seat losses will not reduce her leverage or force her to change her strategy. She has said the election of Biden, who takes office on Jan. 20, gives Democrats more power for the next two years.

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