Washington, D.C. – While the Americans may have been divided by Nancy Pelosi Legacy, few would disagree that the outgoing Speaker of the House of Representatives’ decision to step down heralds a new era in American politics.
For nearly 30 years, Pelosi was the primary legislator of the Democratic House, leading historic legislation to the finish line as speaker, and frustratingly — and at times teaming with Republicans as minority leader.
Here, Al Jazeera looks to the future for the House and American politics in the post-Pelosi era.
Who will replace Pelosi as speaker?
Democrats narrowly lost control of the House in the midterm elections earlier this month. So the next speaker will be from the incoming Republican majority.
In an internal vote, the Republican caucus has nominated minority leader Kevin McCarthy to speak, so he will likely take the gavel from Pelosi when the new Congress meets on Jan. 3.
But that result is not guaranteed.
With the vote count still ongoing, the exact composition of the new Congress is not yet familiar. Several House matches remain too close to call.
The Speaker of the House is elected by a majority of all members. At least two right-wing Republicans have said they would not support McCarthy as speaker. With a slim Republican majority, McCarthy may not get the 218 votes he needs to succeed Pelosi.
In that case, the House holds further rounds of voting until a candidate obtains a majority. In fact, without a speaker, the room would not be functional.
The last time a speaker was not elected at the first roll call was in 1923.
Who will be the democratic leader?
With Pelosi leaving the leadership of the House, Democrats will have to find a new legislator to serve as minority leader and then speaker if they regain control of the chamber in the future.
That new leader will most likely be Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who has the support of Pelosi and other top Democrats.
Jeffries, 52, announced his bid for leadership Friday in a letter to colleagues. The congressman, who currently serves as the chairman of the Democratic caucus, is widely regarded as a frontrunner to succeed Pelosi for years to come. Now he seems ready to run unchallenged for the leading role.
If he wins, he will become the first black party leader in Congress.
What is Jeffries’ agenda?
In the letter announcing his offer, Jeffries pledged to build on the work the House Democrats have done over the years in partnership with the Biden administration.
He also pledged to “empower” individual members of the racially and ideologically diverse Democratic caucus and work to take back the majority by 2024.
The congressman said Democrats would improve their communication strategy to emphasize that they are “basically the party that defends freedom, promotes economic opportunity and values families by uplifting them.”
After the attack on Pelosi’s husband at the couple’s San Francisco home, according to authorities politically motivatedJeffries said he would strengthen lawmakers’ safety.
And at the same time praising some House Democrats have achieved in recent years, he said, “More needs to be done to fight inflation, defend our democracy, secure reproductive freedom, welcome new Americans, promote equal protections under the law, and improve public safety in this country .”
Who else is leaving the Democratic leadership?
Pelosi isn’t the only top Democrat to step down as House leader. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer – also in his 80s – will also not retain his leadership position.
Majority whip Jim Clyburn, 82, is also expected to step down and seek another leadership role.
Massachusetts’ Katherine Clark has launched a bid to become the Democratic whip, and California’s Pete Aguilar is a frontrunner to take over as the caucus chairperson.
Pelosi endorsed Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar in a statement Thursday, saying they reflect the country’s “beautiful diversity.”
Yesterday I said it’s time for a new generation to lead our greatness @House Democrats. It is with pride, gratitude and confidence in their abilities that I salute @RepJeffries, @RepKClark & @RepPeteAguilar for his willingness to take on this responsibility.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) November 18, 2022
What will Pelosi do next?
The outgoing speaker will continue to serve as a congressman representing her district in San Francisco for at least the next two years after being re-elected earlier this month.
“There is no greater official honor for me than to stand on this floor and speak for the people of San Francisco,” she said Thursday.
“This is what I will continue to do as a member of the House – speaking for the people of San Francisco, serving the great state of California and defending our Constitution.”