Nancy Pelosi officially reclaimed her role as Speaker of the House on Thursday. She is the first politician in 58 years to take back the gavel.
Pelosi was elected by a vote of 220-192, with 12 Democrats voting for someone other than the California Democrat and three voting simply “present.”
Pelosi said after her election that she was particularly proud to be speaker of the House for the 116th Congress, which marks the 100th year of women having the right to vote, “and that we all have the ability and the privilege to serve with over 100 women members of Congress, the largest number in history.”
There was not an easy path for Pelosi back to her seat. The GOP won back the House in 2010 with a “Fire Pelosi” campaign. And Republicans have run on a similar playbook for every election since, including in 2018.
Several incoming Democrats made promises during the campaign to not support Pelosi if they were elected to Congress, and 10 stood by that vow, voting either “present” or for someone else.
But Pelosi was able to squash a revolt from about a dozen and a half Democrats who were already in Congress.
She swayed individual members through small promises. (She got the vote of Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio by promising to bring back a subcommittee on elections and make her the chairwoman, and she got Rep. Brian Higgins of New York simply by publishing a statement supporting his Medicare buy-in idea.)
And she won over a large chunk of detractors through a deal where she stated her support of term limits for leadership roles and committee chairmen.
It was a well-worn demonstration of her skill as a legislator. She outworked her opponents. She wore them down, made it uncomfortable to oppose her, and then offered a carrot for their support.
Pelosi has shown her mettle with Trump during this recent government shutdown. She has been resolute that Democrats won’t approve any money for Trump’s border wall. During an Oval Office meeting with Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), she and Schumer were able to goad Trump into taking the blame for a shutdown. This became a sound bite that continues to haunt Trump as the shutdown stretches into its second week.