Pelosi’s most memorable moments as Speaker

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) announcement Thursday that she will not seek a leadership position for the House Democratic Caucus next session will end her 20-year tenure as the top Democrat in the body. 

Pelosi has been elemental in many key moments since she took over as House Democrats’ leader in 2003 and as House Speaker in 2007, serving multiple terms as minority leader and Speaker. 

She helped orchestrate landmark legislative accomplishments during the Obama and Biden administrations while working to hold her party, composed of moderate and progressive wings, together. 

She was also a trailblazer in her own right, becoming the first woman to hold several different congressional leadership positions, including whip, minority leader and Speaker. 

Here are a few of Pelosi’s most memorable moments as Speaker: 

Becoming first female Speaker of the House 

Pelosi made history through several leadership positions she held in Congress. She was elected to her first leadership position in 2001 as House minority whip, the first woman to hold the role. She narrowly defeated Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) for the job. 

Hoyer would eventually serve as House majority leader and work closely with Pelosi in Democratic leadership. 

Pelosi succeeded Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) as House minority leader in 2002 after Gephardt declined to run again to prepare for a run for the presidency in 2004. She also became the first woman in that role. 

Pelosi was an easy choice for Democrats as House Speaker after they won back a majority in the House in the 2006 midterm elections. She was chosen unanimously, becoming the first woman and the first Italian American to serve as Speaker in 2007. 

Almost exactly 16 years after the party chose her to become Speaker, she announced her decision not to run for another term in House leadership. 

Pelosi served as Speaker from 2007 to 2011 and took on the post again in 2019. She became the first person to serve nonconsecutive terms as House Speaker since Sam Rayburn (D-Texas) in the 1950s.

Calling on Bush to reject plan to escalate Iraq involvement 

Pelosi was an early opponent of the Iraq War, splitting from much of her own party in voting against the resolution that gave the Bush administration authorization to use military force in the country in 2002. 

She said in her statement announcing her decision on the vote that she was not convinced that all diplomatic remedies had been exhausted and had not seen evidence that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States. 

She continued her opposition to the war once she became Speaker in 2007. When the Bush administration announced its plan for a surge in the number of troops present in Iraq, she and then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) condemned the plan. 

They said the increase would delay the ability of the Iraqi government to “take control of their own future” after the removal of Saddam Hussein from power and that adding more combat troops would not contribute to success. 

They called for a shifting in the U.S. mission from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counterterrorism efforts, which President Obama eventually oversaw after he became president in 2009. 

Still, Pelosi refused to cut off funding for the military operation in Iraq, saying that she would not end financial support while U.S. soldiers remained in harm’s way. She emphasized increased congressional oversight of how funds were being used, trying to strike a balance between more liberal and moderate members of the caucus. 

Passing the Affordable Care Act 

The Affordable Care Act was one of the most significant legislative achievements of President Obama’s administration and Pelosi was a central figure in the legislation getting passed. 

Numerous Democratic presidents going back to Franklin Roosevelt had proposed or advocated for some form of universal health care, but they either failed to get it passed or focused on other initiatives.  

Democrats made large gains in both houses of Congress, but they were one seat short of the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. Obama wanted to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system, but his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, advised Obama to scale back his plans and try for a much smaller bill. 

Pelosi rejected the idea, calling the smaller-plan idea “kiddie care.” 

She became an architect of the final bill that ultimately passed, working to make the necessary changes to get the bill the support it needed. One change included the removal of federal funding for abortion, which Pelosi struggled with but deemed necessary to get Democrats who opposed abortion to support the bill. 

After various agreements were reached, Congress passed the act and Obama signed it into law. The president called Pelosi “one of the best Speakers” the House has ever had before he signed it. 

Announcing the first impeachment inquiry into President Trump 

Relations between Trump and congressional Democrats, in part led by Pelosi, reached their most contentious point at the time after the House voted to impeach him in December 2019. 

Controversy swelled after reports indicated Trump had a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July of that year in which he pressured Zelensky to launch an investigation into President Biden, then a candidate for the presidency in 2020, and his son, Hunter. 

Pelosi initiated a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump in September following a whistleblower’s complaint against Trump, leading to his impeachment. Pelosi oversaw the process, in which all but three Democrats voted to impeach him for abuse of power and all but four voted to impeach him for obstruction of Congress. 

All Republicans voted against the two articles, while former Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), who left the Republican Party and became an independent, voted for them. Trump became the third president to be impeached. 

“The actions of the Trump presidency have revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said in a statement after announcing the inquiry. 

Tearing up Trump’s State of the Union address 

Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address came at a tense moment, one day before the Senate was set to take its vote on the impeachment charges against him. 

Trump appeared to ignore Pelosi after she reached out for a handshake before he began his speech. This was the first time the two of them had been in the same room since Pelosi walked out of a meeting with him in the White House the previous October. Trump called her a “third-rate” politician after the meeting. 

Pelosi often shook her head as Trump made reference to policies like health care and Social Security, but she received the most attention for tearing up a copy of his speech in half at the conclusion of it. 

“It was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives,” Pelosi told reporters after. 

Trump did not mention impeachment during his address, instead emphasizing his administration’s policies. 

Pelosi reportedly later called the speech a “manifesto of mistruths.”

A video of Pelosi clapping at Trump during his 2019 State of the Union as he spoke about an end to "revenge politics" also went viral, giving Pelosi much attention online.

Responding to the chaos on Jan. 6 

The position of House Speaker is not constitutionally responsible for the certification of the Electoral College results — that duty falls to the vice president. But Pelosi was deeply involved in responding to the events of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, when rioters hoping to stop the certification stormed the Capitol. 

After the rioters entered the Capitol, Congress paused its session to certify the votes, and Pelosi and other congressional leaders were taken to Fort McNair for safety while law enforcement tried to take control of the situation. 

Video clips released by the House select committee investigating the attack showed Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) vigorously making urgent phone calls to multiple state and federal officials to send help. 

Pelosi, then-Vice President Mike Pence and other leaders also discussed the idea of continuing the certification process at Fort McNair. 

Pelosi repeatedly emphasized throughout the day that regardless of the rioters, the certification process must continue. 

“If they stop the proceedings, we will have totally failed,” she said. 

Announcing her plans to step down as speaker 

Speculation built up in the months leading up to the midterm elections this year as to whether Pelosi would continue to serve as Speaker, following through on her previous promise from 2018 to step down after four more years in the role. 

Pelosi largely stayed quiet about her plans and deflected questions before the election. She said the recent attack on her husband, Paul, would affect her plans but would not say how so. 

Following the party’s better-than-expected performance in the midterms, causing the GOP to likely only win a narrow majority in the body, some Democrats indicated that Pelosi was in a strong position to decide for herself what to do and that she could continue to lead the caucus if she wished. 

Pelosi ultimately announced during remarks on the House floor that she would not seek another term in leadership but would stay in her House seat representing her district, saying that “there is no greater official honor for me than to stand on this Floor and to speak for the people of San Francisco.” 

Pelosi has been one of the longest-tenured House Speakers in the body’s history and will likely take on a mentorship role for the next generation of Democratic leaders.

McCarthy made fellow Republican cry in post-Jan. 6 meeting: book

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) engaged in an argument after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in which he yelled at Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) about protecting Republicans from former President Trump, making her cry, The Washington Post reported

The Post reported that McCarthy and Herrera Beutler met in his office on Feb. 25 of last year, during which he said he was “taking all the heat” to protect people from Trump and that he alone was holding the Republican Party together. 

The report is based on an excerpt of a new book from Post reporter Karoun Demirjian and Politico reporter Rachel Bade, “Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump,” which is set to be released next week. 

“I have been working with Trump to keep him from going after Republicans like you and blowing up the party and destroying all our work!” McCarthy reportedly told Herrera Beutler. 



Herrera Beutler started crying and apologized for not notifying him in advance that she confirmed to media organizations that McCarthy called Trump on Jan. 6 to urge him to tell the rioters to leave the Capitol. 

McCarthy told her that she should have come to him and that “this is no way to thank me.” 

“What did you want me to do? Lie?” Herrera Beutler said. “I did what I thought was right.” 

McCarthy and Herrera Beutler denied the report in a joint statement to the Post, saying that they know it is wrong because they were the only two in the room for the conversation. 

“Beyond multiple inaccuracies — it is dramatized to fit an on-screen adaptation, not to serve as a document of record,” they said. 

Demirjian and Bade said in the book that their reporting was based on conversations with a person who was in the room during the argument and multiple lawmakers who said they heard an account of the argument from McCarthy. 

“McCarthy’s tirade against Herrera Beutler was just the start of what would become a GOP-wide campaign to whitewash the details of what happened on January 6 in the aftermath of the second impeachment,” they wrote. 

Trump staunchly opposed the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, backing primary challengers to those who ran for reelection. Most of those who voted to impeach, including Herrera Beutler, were either defeated in their primary or chose not to run for reelection.

McConnell came closer than first reported to voting to convict Trump: book

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came closer than previously reported to voting to convict former President Trump in the impeachment trial that followed the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, according to a new book set to be released next month. 

The Washington Post released an excerpt from “UNCHECKED: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump,” by the Post’s Karoun Demirjian and Politico’s Rachel Bade, that discusses how McConnell wrestled with whether to vote to convict Trump for inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. 

McConnell was pleased to see the wide range of Republicans who had turned against Trump following the riot and called on him to resign. But he was “stunned” by the speed at which the GOP turned back to support Trump, with only 10 House Republicans voting in favor of impeachment, the excerpt states. 

McConnell knew many Senate Republicans would look to him for guidance on how to vote on a motion from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) about whether the conviction of a president who was no longer in office was constitutionally permitted. 

The House voted to impeach Trump a week before the end of his term, but the Senate trial would not begin until after he left office. 

The authors based the information in the excerpt on interviews with people familiar with McConnell’s thinking and deliberations. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity to “speak candidly.” 

McConnell was drawn to voting to convict Trump, an outcome that would have potentially barred him from running for office again.

“We’ve all known that Trump is crazy,” he reportedly told aides following the insurrection. “I’m done with him. I will never speak to him again.” 

But McConnell did not know if he was up to leading a “rebellion” against Trump, according to the authors. 

He was not convinced by an argument from conservative attorney J. Michael Luttig that the Senate was constitutionally unable to hold a trial for a former president. But other members of the Senate Republican Conference thought differently.

McConnell discussed the argument with fellow GOP senators who were skeptical.

His legal adviser from Trump’s first impeachment trial, Andrew Ferguson, advised him that some constitutional scholars do not believe that the Constitution allows an impeached president to be barred from future office. However, these scholars are in the minority.

Ferguson told McConnell that Trump could use that view to run again in 2024 and sue states that keep him off the ballot, turning it into a legal battle that could lead to a political comeback. 

The authors reported that McConnell also feared turning Trump into a martyr if he was convicted.

The Senate Republican leader sent a letter to his fellow GOP senators the day after Luttig made his argument that he was open to voting to convict and firmly blamed Trump for causing the riot, according to the excerpt. 

McConnell ultimately voted to acquit the former president.

These are the lawmakers on the Jan. 6 committee

The House committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection will start holding public hearings Thursday, looking to draw national attention to witness testimony and evidence gathered during nearly a year of investigating.

The committee is made up of nine House members — seven Democrats and two Republicans. It formed last summer, about six months after the U.S. Capitol riot, to investigate the attack and events and communications around it.

After an attempt to form a bipartisan commission with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) failed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) moved forward in appointing the entire committee.

Here are the members serving on the House Jan. 6 committee and some of their comments on the panel's work thus far.

Bennie Thompson 

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) serves as chairman of the committee. Thompson has led the committee since its inception. He has said there is “no question” that the Jan. 6 insurrection was a premeditated attack based on the evidence the committee has received.

He has called his role leading the committee “ironic” given his background as a Black man from “one of the most racist states.”

Liz Cheney 

Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) serves as the vice chairwoman and is one of two Republican members on the committee. Thompson said in September that her appointment underscores the “bipartisan nature” of the committee’s work. 

But Cheney has faced sharp criticism as a result of her decision to participate in the committee’s investigation and her rebukes of former President Trump’s claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential election. House Republicans voted to remove Cheney as conference chairwoman last May, and she is now facing a Trump-endorsed challenger for her primary in August. 

Cheney said last month hat Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results is a "threat we have never faced before."

Adam Kinzinger 

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), the other Republican serving on the committee, has also faced pushback after he voted to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the Capitol insurrection and joined the Jan. 6 committee. Kinzinger announced in October that he would not seek reelection to his seat, ending a 12-year career in the House. He has remained one of the most vocal GOP critics of Trump. 

Kinzinger was not originally a member of the committee, but Pelosi appointed him after McCarthy pulled his picks from consideration. 

McCarthy denied blaming Trump for the insurrection immediately following the attack, but tapes later revealed that he did, which Kinzinger said showed that Republican leaders think their voters are “dumb.”

Pete Aguilar 

Rep. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), the vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, argued in March in favor of the Justice Department bringing contempt charges against witnesses who have refused to cooperate despite subpoenas from the committee. 

The Justice Department has brought charges for contempt of Congress against former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon and former trade adviser Peter Navarro but has not charged his former chief of staff Mark Meadows or Dan Scavino, his former deputy chief of staff for communications, who have also been subpoenaed by the committee.

Zoe Lofgren 

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, said in March on PBS’s “NewsHour” that what unfolded during the riot was a more serious threat to American democracy than Watergate. In April, she said the members of the House Jan. 6 committee are “not afraid” to release any information or call any witness to testify. 

The committee has issued subpoenas for a range of witnesses, including Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr. who spoke at the Jan. 6 rally at the Ellipse near the White House. Multiple family members have voluntarily cooperated, including the former president's daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner. 

The committee has not said who will testify during its upcoming slate of eight hearings.

Elaine Luria 

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) said in an interview in late March that Kushner’s interview with the committee was “really valuable” to the investigation.

Luria also called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to act on the contempt charges the committee has recommended. 

“Attorney General Garland, do your job so we can do ours,” she said at a meeting where the committee forwarded its recommendation for charges against Scavino and Navarro. 

Stephanie Murphy 

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) said in February that the committee needs to be aware of the impact its actions could have moving forward.

“The people who were involved were at all levels of government — local, state and federal — and the unprecedented nature of the event has led us to be very careful about how we proceed in the investigation because we are setting precedents,” Murphy told The Hill at the time. 

“But we will be thorough in how we get all the information,” she added. 

Jamie Raskin 

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who led the House impeachment case against Trump in January, has been vocal about the Jan. 6 committee’s findings and what the American people will learn from the public hearings.

He said Monday that the committee members have found evidence on Trump that is “a lot more than incitement.” Trump was impeached following the insurrection for incitement, but the Senate did not reach the requisite two-thirds majority vote needed to convict him.

Raskin told Washington Post Live on Tuesday that the hearing this week will “tell a story of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election.” 

Adam Schiff 

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) emphasized on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the hearing this week will be the first time there will be a “comprehensive narrative” on the events surrounding the insurrection.

He said “a number of bombshells” have already been released during the committee’s investigation but that there is more to be revealed. Schiff is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which was at the center of the investigation in Trump's first impeachment for allegedly soliciting foreign help in an election.