House Speaker Nancy Pelosi steps down while the next generation steps up
Nancy Pelosi (Image via Gage Skidmore.)

United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California announced on Thursday that she "will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership" in the 118th Congress. The move will end a nearly twenty year historic run as the first woman to hold the title of Speaker of the House.

Watch an excerpt of her spirited speech from the House floor Thursday:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi steps down while the next generation steps up | RawStory.TVHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi steps down while the next generation steps up | RawStory.TV

Democrats lost their five-seat House majority in last week's midterm elections, handing Republicans a slim but very real edge in the lower congressional chamber.

Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-California), the current minority leader, is widely expected to be chosen as the next Speaker. On Wednesday, 188 members of the House GOP caucus nominated him for the job, which would begin when the new Congress is sworn in on January 3rd, 2022.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the second-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, followed Pelosi's lead on Thursday, announcing he will also step aside from House Democratic leadership, and "continue [his] service in a different role."

State Newsroom senior reporter Jennifer Shutt shared Hoyer's message on Twitter. “ … I have decided not to seek elected leadership in the 118th Congress,” Hoyer said in a press release. “I do intend to continue my service in Congress and return to the Appropriations Committee as a member to complete work in which I have been involved for many years."

Shutt reports Hoyer is throwing his support behind Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for Democratic leader. The day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she would step aside, Jeffries announced his own history-making bid to become the first Black American to helm a major U.S. political party in Congress as leader of the House Democrats.

The 52-year-old Jeffries gave nod to the “legendary figures” before him, Pelosi and her leadership team, while encouraging his colleagues to embrace this “once-in-a-generation opportunity to further unleash our full potential as a team.”

“The House Democratic Caucus is the most authentic representation of the gorgeous mosaic of the American people,” Jeffries said in a letter to colleagues.

Pelosi told reporters she would not be making any endorsements, believing it's better not to “anoint" new leaders but allow them the confidence of rising on their own. But on Friday, she heartily backed the potential new leaders.

“With pride, gratitude and confidence in their abilities that I salute Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark and Vice Chairman Pete Aguilar for being ready and willing to assume this awesome responsibility,” Pelosi said in her own statement Friday.