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National Govt & Politics
Nancy Pelosi elected House Speaker as 116th Congress convenes
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Nancy Pelosi elected House Speaker as 116th Congress convenes

Nancy Pelosi elected House Speaker as 116th Congress convenes
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Nancy Pelosi elected House Speaker as 116th Congress convenes

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) became the first person to regain the post of Speaker since the 1950's on Thursday, with Democrats exercising their new control of the U.S. House by electing the veteran California lawmaker as Speaker, as a wave of new Democratic women and minorities took office, vowing to push a much different legislative agenda in the 116th Congress than that of the outgoing Republican leadership and President Donald Trump.

"I am particularly proud to be the woman Speaker of the House of this Congress, which marks 100 years of women winning the right to vote, as we serve with more than 100 women in the House of Representatives – the highest number in history," Pelosi told lawmakers after being given the gavel by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy.

"Our nation is at an historic moment. Two months ago, the American people spoke, and demanded a new dawn," Pelosi added, as the new Congress convened under the specter of a partial government shutdown, locked in a dispute with President Donald Trump over money for his campaign pledge to build a wall along the Mexican border, in order to slow illegal immigration.

The final tally gave Pelosi 220 votes, while McCarthy received 192.

Three members voted "Present," while 18 others, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Cheri Buston (D-IL), former Vice President Joe Biden, Georgia candidate for Governor Stace Abrams, and a group of other lawmakers picked up the remaining votes.

While there were some Democrats who refused to vote for Pelosi, others who had questioned her return to the post of Speaker were on board with her election.

"There's a time to vote for Captain, and there's time to all play on the same team - and we're clearly all on the same team now," said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), who had initially led a rebellion against Pelosi, but quickly found himself outnumbered after the election.

On the floor of the House, it was readily apparent how much the House had changed because of the 2018 elections, as almost 100 new members were voting - many of them women.

"First day of a new era," said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).

In the House and Senate office buildings, it was a festive mood for newly elected lawmakers, as they dragged young children, parents, relatives and supporters through the hallways to witness their historic day.

"The best part of this day is to be able to share it with the ones you love," said Rep. Ross Spano (R-FL), who had family and friends on hand to celebrate his swearing-in.

"It is incredibly exciting, it's a big honor," said Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), the first Democrat to be elected to Congress from the state of Oklahoma since 2010.

For many lawmakers, the sight of their name plate on the wall drove home their responsibilities in the Congress.

"That was one of the moments where the weight of this really hit me," said new GOP Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL).

"I'm ready to get to work," said Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), as she walked to the House floor to be sworn into office, one of a number of Democratic winners from what were once reliable suburban Republican House districts.

Walking up to the Capitol, McBath's voice choked up as she was asked about her teenage son Jordan Davis, who was shot and killed in 2012 at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida.

"When I was at the prayer service, I did every thing I could to stop crying because I was thinking about the fact that he's led me here," McBath said about her son, as she campaigned on tougher gun control laws.

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