News / USA

Nancy Pelosi Makes History as Powerful House Speaker

Multimedia

TEXT SIZE - +
Cindy Saine

Nancy Pelosi has won broad recognition as an effective Speaker of the House of Representatives.  But she is also the target of opposition Republicans trying to win back control of the House in this November's congressional elections.

Nancy Pelosi made history on January 4, 2007 when she was sworn in as the first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in its 218-year history.

The mother of five invited the children and grandchildren of House members, including her own eight grandchildren, to join her.

Nancy Pelosi talked about her background at a street-name-changing ceremony in her honor in Baltimore, Maryland.

"I was born and raised in Baltimore, where my father was mayor, and we were raised in a family that was devoutly Catholic, deeply patriotic, extremely proud of our Italian-American heritage, extremely proud of that, and in our case, staunchly Democratic," she said.

As a child, the young Nancy learned hard-nosed political skills from her politician father.

Democratic pollster and Pelosi advisor, Celinda Lake:

"Politics was certainly not something that was new to her," said Lake.  "I don't know if she ever aspired to be arguably the most powerful woman in the United States today, and one of the most successful. Because she has really organized that Democratic Party and gotten them to do things in the House that no one else could do and that people said was impossible in this day and age in politics."

One of the things Pelosi got done as Speaker, that Democrats had been trying to do for more than 70 years, is to pass sweeping health care reform.  Lake says Pelosi was clearly the driving force in the effort.

"And when other people wanted to cave in, when people wanted to say, including a very powerful man in our party said, 'let's just do children's health care and let's come back at it another day,' she said no, this country needs health care reform, we are going to take on the insurance industry, we are going to get it done," noted Lake.

Republican political strategist Terry Nelson agrees that Pelosi was the key to passing health care reform, but points out that she is a polarizing figure for many conservatives.  

"Her unfavorable rating is usually in the high 40s to low 50s, which, for a speaker of the House is really, really extraordinary," said Nelson.  "I mean Speakers of the House tend to be, they are obviously important figures, but they tend not to be extraordinarily well-know across the country.  With Nancy Pelosi, a lot of people know who she is and they have strong feelings about her."

Nelson says Pelosi is so unpopular among conservatives because she represents one of the most left-leaning, heavily Democratic districts of the country, San Francisco, California.  And he says she is not known for reaching out to Republicans.

"That has never been the case," he added.  "When I worked on the Hill it wasn't the case and I don't think it has developed since then.  So I think that those two things kind of together, her own perspectives on the world, her lack of relationships on the other side have made for a divisive kind of leadership, that has come out of the House.  And it has stood in contrast to the way Barack Obama campaigned in 2008."

Some analysts say that Speaker Pelosi and President Barack Obama complement each other, with her tough, behind-the-scenes way of getting things done, and his gift for inspiring many with his public speeches. The two still have a lot more they want to accomplish, including financial reform, immigration reform, and climate change legislation.

To do this, Pelosi has to try to hold on to the Democrats' current majority in the House of Representatives when the entire House is up for re-election this November.  

If the Republicans do win back the majority, she will no longer be Speaker. But her place in history will be secure as the first female speaker, and the one who helped pushed health care legislation through Congress.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid