speaker election

Pelosi elected speaker with 15 Democratic defections
California Democrat claims gavel again after eight years in minority

Nancy Pelosi is speaker again, eight years after she last held the gavel. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats, in their first act of the 116th Congress on Thursday, officially elected Nancy Pelosi to serve as speaker, returning the gavel to the longtime Democratic leader eight years after she last held it.

The speaker election was not without controversy, however. The California Democrat had to cut a handful of deals over the past two months with would-be opponents to shore up the support needed to win the floor vote, even though no one was challenging her for the post.

With Opponents Dug In, Pelosi Has Little Room to Negotiate on Speaker Votes
At least 15 Pelosi opponents say they remain firm and will not vote ‘present’

Reps.-elect Max Rose, D-N.Y., left, and Jason Crow, D-Colo., pictured fist bumping at the new member office lottery on Nov. 30, are among the Democrats firmly opposed to Nancy Pelosi’s speaker bid. Rep.-elect Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., is among those who voted against Pelosi in caucus elections but appears open to supporting her on the floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

At least 15 Democrats resisting Nancy Pelosi’s speaker bid are holding firm in their opposition and say they plan to vote for someone other than the California Democrat during the Jan. 3 speaker election, providing Pelosi with little room to negotiate a victory.

With the House poised to have 235 Democrats seated on the opening day of the 116th Congress when the speaker election takes place, Pelosi can only afford to have 17 Democrats vote and say a name that is not hers to meet the 218-vote majority threshold.