Veteran Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, considered an ardent supporter of India-United States ties, has been elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives for the second time, becoming the most powerful elected woman in the US.
Pelosi, 78, second in line for the presidency, took the gavel as Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives in the new Congress after the mid-term elections.
With 235 seats, Democrats now enjoy majority in the US House of Representatives. Republicans now have 199 seats in the 435-member House after the November elections.
She replaces Republican leader Paul Ryan, 48, in the new Congress. She won the speakership by 220-192 vote over the Republican leader Congress Kevin McCarthy, who is now the House Minority Leader.
The Speaker is second in the US presidential line of succession, after the vice president and ahead of the president pro tempore of the Senate.
Pelosi also makes history as she reclaims a title she previously held when she served as the first and so far only female House speaker from 2007 to 2011.
Her victory came as the US government remained partly shut down in a row over funds for the president’s border wall with Mexico. As House speaker, Pelosi will regularly face off against President Donald Trump
She said she wants to end the shutdown but will not support the wall.
“We enter this new Congress with a sense of great hope and confidence for the future, and deep humility and prayerfulness in the face of the challenges ahead,” she said accepting the gavel as Speaker of the House.
Referring to the November mid-term elections, in which the Democrats gained majority in the House, Pelosi said that Americans want a Congress that delivers results for the people, opening up opportunity and lifting up their lives.
“When our new Members take the oath, our Congress will be refreshed, and our Democracy will be strengthened by the optimism, idealism and patriotism of this transformative Freshman Class. Working together, we will redeem the promise of the American Dream for every family, advancing progress for every community. We must be pioneers of the future,” she said.
Pelosi on Thursday invited President Trump to deliver the annual State of the Union Address to a Joint Session of the Congress on January 29.
“In the spirit of our Constitution, I invite you to deliver your State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 in the House Chamber,” Pelosi said.
Trump in an interaction with reporters at the White House congratulated Pelosi on becoming Speaker.
“I just want to start off by congratulating Nancy Pelosi on being elected Speaker of the House. It’s a very, very great achievement, and hopefully we’re going to work together and we’re going to get lots of things done, like infrastructure and so much more,” he said.
“I know they want to do that very badly, and so do I. So, hopefully, we’re going to have a lot of things that we can get done together. I think it’s actually going to work out. I think it’ll be a little bit different than a lot of people are thinking. So I congratulate Nancy. Tremendous, tremendous achievement,” Trump said.
In 2017, Pelosi leading a bipartisan Congressional delegation visited India and held talks for strengthening bilateral economic and security relations.
Pelosi, known for advocating the cause of the Tibetans, also visited Dharamshala and met Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.