By Dayo Badmus
Incumbent Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi has been re-elected.
Nancy was re-elected as a new Congress took office amid the surging coronavirus pandemic and a plot by some Republicans to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump.
The House voted 216-209 to reinstate Pelosi on Sunday after Democrats lost 11 seats in the November elections to command a narrower 222-212 majority.
Five Democrats chose not to support her – two voted for Democratic legislators who were not running while three others simply voted “present”.
Pelosi, the only woman to have ever served as speaker, has led the House Democrats for 17 years.
“As we are sworn in today, we accept a responsibility as daunting and demanding as any that previous generations of leadership have faced. We begin the new Congress during a time of extraordinary difficulty,” Pelosi said in a floor speech that noted the deaths of more than 350,000 Americans from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Now is a time for our nation to heal. Our most urgent priority will continue to be defeating the coronavirus. And defeat it, we will,” the 80-year-old California Democrat added, pledging that further aid would follow the latest $892bn package that Congress passed in December.
The vote took hours, as legislators were required to vote in groups of several dozen due to social-distancing rules imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.
There are normally 435 members of the House, but just 427 votes were cast on Sunday as a few congressmen-elect are in quarantine due to COVID-19 and a tight House race in New York has yet to be formally decided.
One congressman-elect from Louisiana, Luke Letlow, died of complications from COVID-19 last week, days before he was due to be sworn in.