The Pelosi Era Has Come to an End
It will be challenging for her successors to match the legacy left by the first female speaker.

Nancy Pelosi

Image source: The Economic Times

cheering Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she revealed she would leave her role as the top lawmaker on Capitol Hill.

WATERLOO — Speaker Nancy Pelosi overcame political backlash predictions in 2009 by pushing through a significant climate change bill despite having a popular Democratic president in the White House and large Democratic majority in Congress The House narrowly passed a bill to reduce emissions after Ms. Pelosi’s trademark haggling to persuade recalcitrant Democrats, and she rejoiced, “We passed transformational legislation which moves us into the future. “It was an unusual error of judgment. Her near future ended up being in the minority after Democrats lost the 2010 midterm elections as a result of the public’s backlash to the climate bill, which died in the Senate, and the health care reform, which was enacted Ms. Pelosi steadfastly refused to give up and resign. She remained the leader of the House Democrats despite their defeat and came back in 2019 as a more sensible speaker who had gained experience from both her accomplishments and mistakes. She would then preside over a period of extraordinary legislative production. She cemented her status as the most influential woman in American politics to that point in the process.

What can arguably be called the Pelosi era in Washington came to a close on Tuesday, with Ms. Pelosi retreating to the rank and file of a new Congress where, she insists, she does not intend to be a meddling mother-in-law offering unsolicited advice The legislation she shepherded through to two Democratic presidents’ signatures on issues like the environment, health care, public works, and social issues will, however, be remembered for years. Her tenure’s most memorable moments were capped off by the electrifying invitation she extended to Volodymyr Zelensky to address Congress just days before she lost the gavel Whatever their opinion of her policy program, the new leadership of both parties will find it difficult to try to equal her performance and political reach. The first female speaker, Ms. Pelosi, blazed a unique trail.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, two significant events that tested her leadership skills but also demonstrated her readiness to put aside political differences in times of crisis, occurred between her term in office. A pandemic that rocked Congress and the country, an Iraq war she opposed, a terrifying financial crisis she helped stop, the rise of the Tea Party movement that forced her out of office, the Trump presidency she fought with two impeachments, and finally a successful legislative push during the first two years of President Biden’s term. Even if her aims were lofty, she also committed herself to — and seemed to enjoy — the minute details of vote counting, eliminating Democrats one by one until she got the necessary 218 votes, frequently keeping a few extra in her pocket just in case John A. Boehner, the Ohio Republican who sparred with Ms. Pelosi while serving as minority leader and speaker, said last month at the dedication of her official portrait, “The fact of the matter is no other speaker in the modern era, Republican or Democrat, has wielded the gavel with such authority or such consistent results.” I’ll just say that you’re a difficult cookie And one that is biased. In September 2008, as the economy teetered and the House faced a crucial vote on a bank bailout, Ms. Pelosi combined her plea for the legislation’s passage with an attack on Republican economic policies that contributed to the catastrophe. Republicans who opposed the deal cited the tone of her criticism as their justification, which caused the financial markets to crash when their party failed to produce the required number of votes 

The Bush administration and members of both parties in Congress were then led by Ms. Pelosi in reorganizing and coming up with a bipartisan solution to the economic crisis. She played a key role in a now-famous scene that took place in the West Wing of the White House when Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, knelt down and begged Nancy Pelosi for assistance.

Image source: The Economic Times

In the midst of the Great Recession, Ms. Pelosi collaborated with Congressmen and President George W. Bush.

I didn’t realize you were Catholic, Hank. Ms. Pelosi, a devoted follower of that religion, replied curtly to Mr. Paulson’s pleading .But Ms. Pelosi considers the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 to be her finest achievement, one that called for all of her legislative prowess. In the end, she was forced to persuade House Democrats to accept a Senate bill that many considered disagreeable but that they were unable to alter due to the passing of Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who had given Senate Democrats a vital 60th vote. To deliver the victory, it was necessary to overcome the different objections of both conservative and progressive Democrats According to Ms. Pelosi, a mother of five, “being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition,” she told reporters in December. “Nothing in any of the years that I was there compares to the Affordable Care Act, expanding health care to tens of millions more Americans, 150 million families having better benefits, lower costs, and no pre-existing condition risking their access, and no lifetime limits.”

The victory came at a high price because Ms. Pelosi was the focus of vicious political attacks from the right, which continue to this day and led to the violent attack on her husband, Paul, in October. Democrats drastically decreased in numbers. Before handing the White House over to Donald J. Trump, or “what’s his name,” as Ms. Pelosi occasionally disparages the guy who called her “Crazy Nancy,” Republicans were able to put a stop to the last years of President Barack Obama’s administration even as he was re-elected in 2012.After Democrats regained control of the House in 2018, Ms. Pelosi faced a challenge to her position as speaker. However, she was helped by her vehement and outspoken criticism of Mr. Trump to regain control. Ms. Pelosi made it clear right on that she would not make fun of Mr. Trump like so many others did. In their first meeting with congressional leaders at the White House in January 2017, he misrepresented the results of the popular vote, and she sternly corrected him. A picture from a different meeting showed her scolding him for showing support for Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and telling Mr. Trump that “with him, all roads lead to Putin.”

Image source :the economic times

At the conclusion of the same speech a year later, she tore up Mr. Trump’s written words, which was a more scathing condemnation than her mocking slap at him during his 2019 State of the Union address In a recent interview, Ms. Pelosi explained her impulsive decision to destroy the speech by claiming that “He lied on every single page.” In particular, she cited the fact that Mr. Trump used the event to praise Rush Limbaugh, whom Ms. Pelosi had previously referred to as a “thug,” as evidence that she had found the speech to be insulting to the House of Representatives. Ms. Pelosi added, “Don’t come here with your trash and your trash language,” expressing her viewpoint at the moment.

When the Green New Deal was proposed, a comprehensive environmental plan that Ms. Pelosi at one time dismissed as the “green fantasy,” younger, more progressive Democrats perceived Ms. Pelosi as unwilling to stretch the limits of legislation, which presented a challenge to her in her second term as speaker. The more realistic Nancy Pelosi drew a line there, citing her own credentials as a card-carrying liberal from San Francisco. Ms. Pelosi told fundraisers at a fundraiser in Detroit in October that while she valued the new members’ zeal and even shared their progressive viewpoints, it was not a “winning message .”She recalled having those signs in her basement 30 years prior. But that’s not what we’re doing at the moment. In order to avoid a deadlock in 2021, Speaker Pelosi decided to isolate a sizable tax and climate change package from a bipartisan public works plan that progressives had threatened to sabotage. The infrastructure bill was approved and turned out to be politically successful, but several of the social programs and tax breaks Democrats sought in the bill’s defeated companion were never brought back.

The official image of Ms. Pelosi was released in December. Credit… The New York Times’ Pete Marovich In her final months as speaker, she presided over a flurry of bipartisan legislation that, while falling short of what she and other House Democrats would have preferred, represented real progress: the largest climate change measure ever enacted, an unexpected gun safety bill, legislation regarding microchip manufacturing, new provisions to lower drug costs for older Americans, and a sizable spending package that included money for Ukraine to fight its war against Russian aggression. Last but not least, same-sex marriage legislation was passed, which Ms. Pelosi claimed was the perfect culmination to her time in Congress, where her first address after winning a special election in 1987 was a plea to fight AIDS.For a leader who frequently completed her most important responsibilities with little time to spare, there was one more item to attend to. With only a few days left in her term as speaker, she launched one last attack on Mr. Trump. First, the special committee she established on January 6 concluded its investigation by submitting the former president to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution and by making reams of material available that demonstrated Mr. Trump’s resolve to rescind the 2020 election he had lost. Then, on Friday, the Ways and Means Committee, which is run by Democrats, made public the income tax returns that Mr. Trump had sought to keep private.

The triopoly, however, is now formally over. In favor of Hakeem Jeffries, 52, who will take over as House Democratic leader, Pelosi would cede the gavel to an unidentified Republican speaker. And I predict that when the gerontocracy is gone, the nation will miss it.It can be challenging to say the least to exercise authority in a large institution like Congress. National leaders must control member ambitions while juggling divergent ideologies and interests. As Kevin McCarthy’s current campaign for speaker is dramatically illustrating, it might be difficult to even win enough support to become a leader. Of course, younger people can execute these jobs successfully, but given their intricacy, they are best suited for those with the most experience I had considered myself to be sympathetic to the anti-gerontocracy critique. However, the past Congress’s achievements have persuaded me otherwise. One of the busiest legislative sessions in recent memory was presided over by Pelosi, Schumer, and Vice President Biden. They have achieved much more than anyone could have possibly imagined with the slimmest of margins—and much more than their previous Democratic predecessors.

Gerontocracy has been criticized for the idea that older people are unable to plan for the future because they won’t be alive to experience it. (It is true that some older voters are awful NIMBYs and cultural reactionaries. I won’t say I’m sorry for them.) However, the 117th Congress has passed a number of laws making large expenditures in infrastructure, clean energy, and semiconductor production that the more senior politicians might not even live to fully benefit from. They made significant investments to maintain long-term national competitiveness and to decarbonize the economy. Additionally, they made a significant wealth transfer between generations by temporarily expanding the child tax credit All of this shows that these leaders were seeking to pen the first paragraphs of their obituaries rather than thinking about holding on to their positions of authority at the conclusion of their careers. They jumped forward instead of dwelling on failures, something they had grown accustomed to handling over decades in the industry. They put aside concerns over the stigma of making deals that would be criticized as gimmicky because they were aware from their own mistakes how infrequently sweeping successes materialize Pelosi managed her caucus better than any politician since Lyndon B. Johnson ever did. She never had to deal with a major internal revolt or thwart a coup. She was able to lead her herd by knowing when to coerce and when to punish. Congressmen and women