US House speaker Nancy Pelosi to announce plans for her future

Departing speaker has faced pressure to step away from Democratic Party leadership after dominating for two decades

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Democratic US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was expected on Thursday to announce whether she will retire from Congress or seek another term as party leader, after Republicans were projected to have won majority control of the chamber in last week's elections.

Ms Pelosi, 82, and two other top leaders have been under pressure over the past few years from younger House Democrats to yield power after two decades at the helm.

“The speaker plans to address her future plans tomorrow to her colleagues. Stay tuned,” Ms Pelosi's deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill said in a post on Twitter late on Wednesday.

Her decision may have a bearing on whether departing House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, 83, and Democratic Whip James Clyburn, 82, will seek top Democratic positions in the new Congress that convenes on January 3.

Ms Pelosi, the first female speaker of the US House of Representatives, said late on Wednesday that House Democrats “will continue to play a leading role in supporting President Biden’s agenda — with strong leverage over a scant Republican majority”.

She did not specifically address her role going forward but in recent days has noted that the violent assault on her husband Paul by an intruder in their San Francisco home, and other factors, would affect her decision.

Ms Pelosi “has been overwhelmed by calls from colleagues, friends and supporters”, Mr Hammill wrote.

President Joe Biden has also voiced his support for her.

She was first elected to the House in 1987 and steadily moved up the ranks, securing leadership positions before winning her first term as speaker in 2007.

Along with Mr Biden, who turns 80 this weekend, the Democrats' ageing leadership has raised questions about its next generation even as Americans are living longer.

The highest-ranking and most powerful elected woman in US history until Kamala Harris became vice president in January 2021, Ms Pelosi has twice served as leader of the House, first from 2007 to 2011 as Democrats took advantage of widespread opposition to the Iraq war to control of the chamber.

She took the gavel again in 2019 when Democrats rode a wave of opposition to then-president Donald Trump to win control of the House and was re-elected speaker in November 2021.

House Democrats are set to vote on their leaders on November 30.

On Wednesday, House Republicans offered initial support for Kevin McCarthy to serve as speaker when the next Congress is sworn in.

Reuters contributed to this report

Ms Pelosi outside the White House on December 11, 2018. AP
Updated: November 18, 2022, 7:20 AM
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