November 17, 2022

In a speech laced with historical references, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced she will not seek election to Democratic leadership next year.

In her speech, Pelosi reached all the way back to her childhood, when her father brought her to the Capitol when she was six years old. Noting that she never expected to go from homemaker to a member of Congress, she spoke of duty and the sacred oath all members take.

She will continue to serve as a member of Congress, but is handing the reins of leadership to the new generation. It's good to know she'll be there to help them navigate the narrow passageways that have led to real change in this country.

She became emotional when she spoke of her husband, sparking a standing ovation that even Republicans grudgingly stood for. They hadn't bothered for anything else, not even when she spoke of working on legislation with former president George W. Bush.

For me, this moment is bittersweet. One of my proudest days as a Democrat was the day Rep. Pelosi became Madam Speaker, the first woman Speaker of the House. While I know it's time to pass the torch to the younger people, it's also undeniable that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will go down in history as one of the best and most influential Speakers ever to serve this country.

My best wishes for her husband's full recovery and her continued health go with her.

UPDATE: President Biden's statement is below. His list of her accomplishments is long.

When I think of Nancy Pelosi, I think of dignity.

History will note she is the most consequential Speaker of the House of Representatives in our history. There are countless examples of how she embodies the obligation of elected officials to uphold their oath to God and country to ensure our democracy delivers and remains a beacon to the world. In everything she does, she reflects a dignity in her actions and a dignity she sees in the lives of the people of this nation.

In 2007, she made history as the first woman Speaker, but that was just the beginning of the history she has made during her four terms. I know because I’ve seen her in action during my career as Senator, Vice President, and now as President. With Nancy, you see a father’s daughter who learned by his side how to win and govern. With her leading the way, you never worry about whether a bill will pass. If she says she has the votes, she has the votes. Every time.

History will record her leadership with President Obama to rescue the economy in crisis from the Great Recession. With her sheer will, passing the Affordable Care Act to ensure health care is a right not a privilege. Ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell so patriotic Americans can serve the country they love no matter who they love. The list goes on, including her leadership in defending democracy and advancing human rights around the world.

In the first two years of my presidency, she is a singular force securing once-in-a-generation bills that will define our nation for decades to come. The American Rescue Plan to get us through COVID-19. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to rebuild our roads and bridges. The CHIPS and Science Act to ensure the most advanced manufacturing is done here in America. The most significant gun safety law in nearly thirty years – for the children. One of the most significant bills helping veterans and their families exposed to toxic materials. And, the Inflation Reduction Act that took on Big Pharma and won, and reflects the most aggressive action ever to tackle the climate crisis.

Because of Nancy Pelosi, the lives of millions and millions of Americans are better, even in districts represented by Republicans who voted against her bills and too often vilify her. That’s Nancy – always working for the dignity of all of the people. And, as a fierce defender of democracy through our laws, history will also note her fierceness and resolve to protect our democracy from the violent, deadly insurrection of January 6th. It’s a threat of political violence and intimidation that continues and she and her family know all too well, but that will never stop her from serving our nation.

She might be stepping down from her leadership role in the House Democratic Caucus, but she will never waiver in protecting our sacred democracy.

Nancy Pelosi is first, last, and always for the people. Jill and I count Nancy, Paul, and their family among our dearest friends. As a nation, we owe her a deep debt of gratitude for her service, her patriotism, and above all, her absolute dignity.

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