Speaker Pelosi says she has no regrets from the last Congress, including the passage of “healthcare reform, student lending reform, financial regulatory reform, credit card reform and the stimulus, even if it meant losing their House majority.” I think we’ll see how all their hard work plays out in the long term. Jonathan Singer is right to note the parallel to the 89th Congress, when Democrats passed “Medicare, Medicaid and the Voting Rights Act,” while subsequently suffering serious electoral losses.
Prior to the election, there was a lot of talk about Steny Hoyer taking over as leader of the House caucus if Democrats lost the House. There is zero reason why there needs to be a leadership change. Speaker Pelosi presided over an unarguably historic Congress, setting out the House as the most progressive part of the government – more so than the Senate and even the White House. She is a phenomenal organizer, keeping a caucus with many conservative Democrats largely in line. I don’t see the virtue in her being moved along because of a change in the calendar, especially as she serves in the highest elected office an American woman has ever held.
Obviously Speaker Pelosi has the right to make the choice for herself. I just hope that no one in the party pressures her out. There have been precedents where a Speaker loses the majority, but remains Minority Leader (the legendary Sam Rayburn comes to mind and, obviously, his Republican counterpart in the intervening years, Joseph Martin). There’s no reason why Speaker Pelosi can’t join Rayburn as a congressional leader whose tenure as Speaker of the House is broken by a session or two as Minority Leader.
The last part of my concern about Speaker Pelosi stepping aside as leader of the House caucus is that she is unquestionably more progressive than her likely replacement, Steny Hoyer. John Larson of the CT-01 is another candidate whose name is talked about, though he would face an up hill battle against Hoyer. Larson is more progressive than Hoyer, but he’s still a New Democrat and isn’t the same fiery liberal that Pelosi is. Rather than see an internal fight over what sort of person leads the House while Democrats are in the minority, I’d much prefer that her colleagues recognize and honor her incredible work for the Democratic Party and for America, and encourage Speaker Pelosi to stay on as Minority Leader.