Pelosi, Hoyer bow out of House leadership roles, open door to further leftward shift by Democrats

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, whom House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer endorsed for Democratic leader, is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. 

Updated: November 17, 2022 - 11:40pm

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer are both declining to run for Democratic leadership posts in the next Congress, passing the baton to a new generation of leaders, which could signal further leftward migration by the party.

Hoyer, 83, threw his support behind New York Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries for Democratic leader on Thursday after announcing his decision not to seek a leadership role in the caucus. Hoyer said he will remain in the House as a member of the Appropriations Committee.

"Now is the time for a new generation of leaders, and I am proud to offer my strong endorsement to Hakeem Jeffries for Democratic Leader, a role in which he will make history for the institution of the House and for our country," Hoyer said in a statement on Thursday

If elected, Jeffries would be the first African-American House Democratic leader.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, the third ranking Democrat in the House, signaled he might not run for a leadership role either and named members he hopes will run the House Democratic caucus. 

"Speaker Pelosi has left an indelible mark on Congress and the country, and I look forward to her continued service and doing whatever I can to assist our new generation of Democratic Leaders which I hope to be Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Pete Aguilar," Clyburn, 82, wrote on Twitter on Thursday. 

Jeffries, chairman of the Democratic Caucus, is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Aguilar, a California Democrat, is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Pro-Choice Caucus and LGBT Equality Caucus. Clark, a Massachusetts Democrat and assistant House speaker, is also a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and LGBT Equality Caucus, among others.

Like Hoyer, Pelosi, 82, said she will remain in Congress and "defend our Constitution" as a member of the House.

"There is no greater official honor for me than to stand on this floor and to speak for the people of San Francisco," Pelosi said on the House floor.

"This I will continue to do as a member of the House speaking for the people of San Francisco, serving the great state of California and defending our Constitution and with great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress." 

The California Democrat also said that the "hour's come for a new generation" to lead the Democratic caucus.

"I am grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility," Pelosi said. "I am endlessly grateful for all of life's blessings."

Pelosi became the first female speaker of the House in 2007 after the Democrats won the majority in the 2006 midterm election during the presidency of Republican George W. Bush.

She continued as speaker during the Obama administration, when she was instrumental in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Pelosi handed the gavel to Republican Rep. John Boehner four years after becoming speaker following the GOP taking back the House in the 2010 midterm election.

Republicans maintained the House majority for eight years until Democrats won the majority back in the 2018 midterm election, after which Pelosi reclaimed the Speaker's gavel.

Pelosi was later reelected as speaker after the Democrats maintained their House majority in the 2020 election.

Pelosi named some of her key legislative accomplishments during the Biden presidency in her floor speech, citing House passage of the $2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law and the $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act.

California Rep. Adam Schiff has also been floated as a potential successor for Pelosi.

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