Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the US House of Representatives, has said that she will step down as party leader when the Republican Party takes control of the House in January.
"I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress," the 82-year-old Pelosi said on the House floor on Thursday, AFP reported. "The hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus."
Following the midterm elections on November 8, the Republican Party secured a majority in the House while Democrats retained control of the Senate. Republicans underperformed in races across the country otherwise they also could have won the Senate as well.
Pelosi, the first woman to hold the powerful House Speaker post, was first elected to Congress in 1987. She first became Speaker in 2007. She is second in the line of succession to President Joe Biden.
Pelosi presided over both impeachments of Donald Trump during her second term in the role.
Last week, Pelosi said that her decision on the future would be influenced by the recent attack on her elderly husband in the runup to the November 8 midterms.
Pelosi, 82, suffered blunt force trauma to his head and body, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation into the attack who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing probe.
An internet user with the same name as the suspect arrested at the scene, David Depape, voiced support for former President Donald Trump. Democrats have also claimed that the suspect is a supporter of Trump.
Terrorism and extremism experts believe the violent attack could be an example of the growing threat of so-called stochastic terrorism, in which occasionally individuals are inspired to violence by hate speech and scenarios they see online and hear preached by public figures.
Paul Pelosi underwent surgery for a skull fracture and other injuries.
Pelosi said she would continue to represent her San Francisco district in the next Congress as she has done for 35 years, and hailed Democrats' performance in the midterm elections.
"Last week, the American people spoke and their voices were raised in defense of liberty, of the rule of law and of democracy itself," she said. "The people stood in the breach and repelled the assault on democracy."
She recounted working with three American presidents - Republican George W. Bush and Democrats Barack Obama and Biden - but did not mention Trump, who was impeached twice by the House under her leadership.
"American democracy is majestic, but it is fragile. Many of us here have witnessed our fragility firsthand, tragically in this chamber. And so democracy must be forever defended from forces that wish it harm," Pelosi said, alluding to the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol by protesters following the controversial 2020 election which was marred by allegations voter fraud and rigging.
In the runup to the midterms, Trump had vowed to end the political career of Pelosi, calling her an “animal” for impeaching him twice.
“We are going to end crazy Nancy Pelosi’s political career once and for all!” he said as his supporters cheered at a rally near Dayton, Ohio on November 7, a day before the elections.
In a statement on Thursday, Biden called Pelosi "the most consequential speaker of the House of Representatives in our history."
Biden also congratulated top House Republican Kevin McCarthy, saying he was "ready to work with House Republicans to deliver results for working families."
Pelosi’s controversial Taiwan trip
In August, Pelosi landed in Taiwan, despite stark warnings from China and amid soaring tensions between the world's two superpowers.
From the self-governing territory, Pelosi criticized Beijing and its leadership, while carefully outlining the limitations of the US commitment to defend the island.
Pelosi said her visit was intended to make it "unequivocally clear" that the United States would "not abandon" the island.
China had warned the US and Pelosi against the visit, as it views Taiwan as a breakaway province that will one day rejoin a “one” China. In response to Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, China’s People’s Liberation Army began the largest military exercises targeting Taiwan in decades.
China carried out military exercises in both the seas and airspace surrounding Taiwan.
Pelosi claimed the trip was "absolutely" worth it and said the United States cannot allow China to isolate the self-governing island, and accused Chinese President Xi Jinping of acting "like a scared bully.”