Washington DC, Jan 3 (efe-epa).- Democrat Nancy Pelosi was re-elected on Sunday as Speaker, giving her the leadership of the United States House of Representatives days before President-elect Joe Biden assumes office amid a challenge to revive the economy and tackle the pandemic.
The California congresswoman secured 216 votes to 209 for Republican Kevin McCarthy, who will once again be the chamber’s minority leader.
Pelosi was elected House speaker in 2019 and had held the post previously from 2007 to 2011.
The House speaker is third in line for the presidency behind the vice president and president.
Pelosi remained silently seated throughout the vote, only nodding or smiling when a fellow Democrat voted for her.
When the official results were read out and Pelosi was declared the winner, the House erupted into applause which the Democrat acknowledged with a wave of her arms and an elbow bump with one of the lawmakers.
Although tipped to hold on to her post, Pelosi had to overcome two problems on her vote: potential Democratic defections and the absence of some lawmakers due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which ultimately did not happen.
The Nov. 3 election, in which Democrat Joe Biden was elected as US president, left his party with a narrow majority in the House of Representatives, which it has controlled since January 2019.
The Democrats lost 10 seats in the elections and were left with 222 in the lower house. The Republicans gained 15 new seats and finished with 211.
The Democrats managed to keep their majority but with the slimmest margin, any party has had in the last 20 years.
This had given Pelosi room only to lose a handful of votes if she wanted to hold on to her position.
Pelosi received overwhelming support from her party, including representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of the so-called “Squad” of four young progressives, who won election two years ago and have been joined this year by African-Americans Cori Bush and Jamaal Bowman, elected in November.
But five Democrats broke ranks.
These include Jared Golden and Conor Lamb, who voted against Pelosi.
Abigail Spanberger, Elissa Slotkin, and Mikie Sherrill simply voted “present,” which does not count as a vote against Pelosi, but does not count in her favor either.
Voting began shortly after noon and lasted for several hours as lawmakers had to vote in groups of 72 as a prevention measure against coronavirus.
Pelosi, 80, will serve as an anchor for Biden, who will be sworn into office on Jan.20 and will need the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives to revive the battered US economy and tackle the pandemic. EFE-EPA