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Nancy Pelosi Makes History as She Reclaims the Gavel

The California Democrat is now once again Speaker of the House

Nancy Pelosi, Paul Ryan. With some enthusiastic assistance from her grandchildren, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California smiles as she casts her vote for herself to be speaker of the House on the first day of the 116th Congress, at the Capitol in WashingtonNew Congress, Washington, USA - 03 Jan 2019

Nancy Pelosi of California smiles as she casts her vote for herself to be speaker of the House on the first day of the 116th Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, DC.

J Scott Applewhite/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, the first and only woman to serve as Speaker of the House, retook the gavel on Thursday afternoon, becoming the first speaker in 60 years to return to the position. Pelosi was re-elected to the speakership by a voice vote with 220 Democrats supporting her bid and 15 opposing it — an impressive margin when you consider that only a matter of weeks ago, 32 Democrats voted against her in a closed-door caucus election.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) tried to emphasize the California Democrat’s popularity, declaring in a speech on House floor speech re-nominating Pelosi to the speakership: “Let me be clear… House Democrats are down with NDP.”

With respect to both the fifth-ranking House Democrat and Naughty By Nature, we here at Rolling Stone would argue that septuagenarian Trini superstar Calypso Rose — catch her in the Gobi tent this April — offers a more illustrative popular music analogy for this moment history, when Pelosi beat back accusations that she was too old and out of touch to lead the Democratic Party.

As she sings on her hit “Calypso Queen”: “They say that I reign too long, forgetting that my constitution is strong, instead of respecting my long long reign, they making plot to take down my name.

The attempted coup, led by 16 Democrats who signed an open letter opposing Pelosi’s bid in November, failed. (Maybe if they’d listened to Calypso Rose, Seth Moulton, Tim Ryan, and the other insurgent Democrats would have realized their mistake challenging the favor-counting daughter of Baltimore mayor, someone who has “been breaking down walls, ever since I was small. They could stand up tall and strong, like a wrecking ball I go knock them down.”)

Accepting the nomination on Thursday, Pelosi gave a nod to the incoming freshman — the largest class in half a century, and the most diverse in history.

“When our new members take the oath, our Congress will be refreshed, and our democracy will be strengthened by the optimism, idealism and patriotism of this transformative freshman class,” she said Thursday. “Working together, we will redeem the promise of the American dream for every family, advancing progress for every community.”

And she spoke of the urgency with which Congress must address income inequality and global warming, which she singled out as “the existential threat of our time… A crisis manifested in natural disasters of epic proportions.” Climate change, Pelosi said, is a threat to public health, the economy and national security and “the entire Congress must work to put an end to the inaction and denial of science that threaten the planet and the future.”

Pelosi also addressed the fact that she was assuming her role in the middle of a government shutdown, pledging she would “seek to reach across the aisle in this Chamber and across the divisions in this great nation.” Whether Trump and Senate Republicans will accept those overtures is TBD. But to borrow, once again, the words of Calypso Rose: “Them foolish and petty men, [Nancy Pelosi] don’t worry ‘bout them, they’ve been trying to take [her] down, but to the end [she] retain [her] crown.

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