The only female US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi was narrowly re-elected to the position Sunday. A deeply divided Congress presented a scare to Pelosi, when five fellow Democrats voted “present” for someone else during the floor vote.
80-year-old Pelosi secured her fourth and probably final, non-consecutive term as House speaker. She earned 216 votes against Republican leader Kevin McCarthy who won 209 votes.
“We begin the new Congress during a time of extraordinary difficulty,” Pelosi said, adding that the US had so far recorded over 20 million COVID-19 positive cases and 350,000 deaths due to the pandemic. "Our most urgent priority will continue to be defeating the coronavirus. And defeat it, we will,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi and Trump have clashed on several occasions in the last two years, especially since the former initiated charges against the latter, which led to his impeachment.
Among progressive lawmakers who voted for Pelosi, includes Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the first African-American to represent Missouri Cori Bush. The Democrats have won the slimmest majority in the House in recent decades— 222 seats in comparison to 211 Republican seats. Pelosi, who has held the position for 17 years, has been the only woman to do so. 427 of the 435 congressmen cast votes as some of them are under quarantine due to COVID-19.
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to take office on January 20.