House Democrats, preparing for what may be the slimmest majority in two decades, re-elected Speaker Nancy Pelosi as their leader on Wednesday by voice vote, formally nominating the California Democrat for another term as speaker, which she later suggested could be her last.
Ms. Pelosi, 80, still has to secure 218 votes on the House floor to become speaker come January. But she is on track to do so, with some of the Democrats who opposed her acquiring the gavel in 2019 now lining up behind her and others packing up their offices after losing.
At a news conference after Democrats convened virtually to pick their leaders, Ms. Pelosi said it was still her intention to abide by a commitment made in 2018 to step aside as speaker after two more terms. She left room for herself to change course, but the implication was clear that the coming term was likely to be her last after nearly two decades as Democratic leader and that she intended to help cultivate the next generation of leadership.
“If my husband is listening, don’t let me have to be more specific than that,” she teased. “We never expected to have another term now. I consider this a gift. And I can’t wait to be working with Joe Biden and preparing us for our transition into the future.”
She added, “I don’t want to undermine any leverage I may have, but I made the statement.”
Democrats also re-elected for another term Ms. Pelosi’s top deputies, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, 81, as majority leader and Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, 80, as Democratic whip.
But the caucus’s actions on Wednesday made clear they were assembling a new cohort of leaders in waiting to succeed them.