This week in women’s history: Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House

Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi, born on March 26, 1940, is currently the Minority Leader of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for the 112th Congress, elected on Nov. 17, 2010, by House Democrats.

After the Democrats took control of the House in 2007 and increased their majority in 2009, Pelosi was elected as the 52nd Speaker of the House for the 110th and 111th Congresses, serving from 2007-11. She is the only woman to have served as Speaker and to date is the highest-ranking female politician in American history.

Opposition to the Iraq and Afghan wars led American voters to reject Republican domination of the House in the 2006 mid-term elections. George W. Bush began his 2007 State of the Union Address, saying, “Tonight, I have a high privilege and distinct honor of my own – as the first President to begin the State of the Union message with these words: Madam Speaker.”

Pelosi represents California’s 12th congressional district, which consists of four-fifths of the city and county of San Francisco. She served as the House Minority Whip from 2002-03, and was House Minority Leader from 2003-07, during the 108th and 109th Congresses. Pelosi is the first woman, the first Californian, and first Italian-American to lead a major party in Congress and to hold the Speakership.

Pelosi was born in Baltimore, Md., the youngest of six children of Annunciata and Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., who was a Democratic Party congressman from Md. and a mayor of Baltimore. Pelosi’s brother, Thomas D’Alesandro III, also a Democrat, was mayor of Baltimore from 1967-71.

Pelosi first won election to the House in 1987. Democrats have held her seat since 1949 and Republicans, who currently make up only 13 percent of registered voters in the district, have not made a serious bid for it since the early 1960s. She has been reelected 10 more times with little substantive opposition, winning by an average of 80 percent of the vote. The strongest challenge Pelosi faced was in 2008, when anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan polled 16 percent and Pelosi won with 72 percent.

Pelosi contributes the most among members of Congress to other congressional campaigns because she represents a safe district and does not need the campaign funds.

“This is a historic moment – for the Congress, and for the women of this country,” she said in her first address to Congress as Speaker. “It is a moment for which we have waited more than 200 years. Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights. But women weren’t just waiting; women were working. Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal. For our daughters and granddaughters, today, we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters, the sky is the limit, anything is possible for them.”

Adapted from Wikipedia.

Photo: Congresswoman Pelosi and children from We Belong Together, including San Franciscan Nashali de la Rosa, discussing the urgency of comprehensive immigration reform. CC BY 2.0.



Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.