Pelosi elected Speaker as Democrats take control of US House of Representatives
Veteran Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, an ardent supporter of strong US-India ties, has been elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives for the second time, becoming the most powerful elected woman in the US.
The 78-year-old California Democrat replaces Republican leader Paul Ryan, in the new Congress. She won the speakership by 220-192 vote on Thursday over Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who is now the House Minority Leader.
Pelosi took the gavel as Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives in the 116th Congress after the mid-term elections in November.
With 235 seats, Democrats now enjoy majority in the 435-member House of Representatives while the Republicans has 199 seats.
The Speaker is second in the US presidential line of succession, after the Vice President and ahead of the President pro tempore of the Senate.
Pelosi also makes history as she reclaims a title she previously held when she served as the first and so far only female House Speaker from 2007 to 2011. She seized the gavel as the House welcomed more women than ever before in the 116th Congress.
As of Thursday, 102 women serve in the House, an all-time high, including 36 newly elected members and a record 43 women of colour.
"We enter this new Congress with a sense of great hope and confidence for the future, and deep humility and prayerfulness in the face of the challenges ahead," she said accepting the gavel as Speaker of the House.
"I'm particularly proud to be a woman Speaker of the house of this Congress, which marks the 100th year of women having the right to vote," Pelosi said.
"And, that we all have the ability and the privilege to serve with over 100 women members of Congress - the largest number in history," she said.
In 2017, Pelosi leading a bipartisan Congressional delegation visited India and held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others for strengthening bilateral economic and security relations.
Pelosi said she had a productive conversation with Prime Minister Modi on the importance of the US-India relationship and the shared values which bind our two countries.
"We exchanged views on our security cooperation and the terrorist threat, India's leadership addressing the climate crisis, and our mutual priority of respecting the human rights of all people in our countries."
Pelosi, known for advocating the cause of the Tibetans, also visited Dharamshala and met Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Her victory came as the US government remained partly shut down in a row over funds for President Trump's controversial border wall with Mexico. As House speaker, Pelosi will regularly face off against President Donald Trump.
She said she wants to end the government shutdown but will not support the wall.
Pelosi said Trump and Senate Republicans should "take yes for an answer" and approve the border bill, which was virtually identical to a plan the Senate adopted on a voice vote last month.
"We're not doing a wall. Does anyone have any doubt that we're not doing a wall?" Pelosi said Thursday night.
Pelosi also took a shot at Trump, calling his proposal "a wall between reality and his constituents."
Earlier, referring to the November mid-term elections, in which the Democrats gained majority in the House, Pelosi said that Americans want a Congress that delivers results for the people, opening up opportunity and lifting up their lives.
"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. Working together, we will redeem the promise of the American Dream for every family, advancing progress for every community. We must be pioneers of the future," she said.
Pelosi on Thursday invited President Trump to deliver the annual State of the Union Address to a Joint Session of the Congress on January 29.
Trump in an interaction with reporters at the White House congratulated Pelosi on becoming the Speaker.
"I just want to start off by congratulating Nancy Pelosi on being elected Speaker of the House. It's a very, very great achievement, and hopefully we're going to work together and we're going to get lots of things done, like infrastructure and so much more," he said.
"I know they want to do that very badly, and so do I. So, hopefully, we're going to have a lot of things that we can get done together.
"I think it's actually going to work out. I think it'll be a little bit different than a lot of people are thinking. So I congratulate Nancy. Tremendous, tremendous achievement," President Trump said.