Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi was elected as Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, returning her to a position she last held in January 2011, for her third term.
The 78-year-old veteran lawmaker was nominated by New York Democratic Representative Hakeem Jeffries, as Democrats took control of the lower chamber.
Pelosi carried 220 of the 235 Democrats in the House; there are also 199 Republicans, with one vacancy in a contested North Carolina district.
A number of Democrats voted against Pelosi, including some of the far left wing of the party, who had called for new leadership in the caucus.
Pelosi reportedly, however, ensured her election by agreeing to limit her tenure to no more than four years in the chamber’s top spot.
Pelosi, who drew a standing ovation, swore into office a record number of women – 102 women in the House – which have changed the face of Congress and made up nearly a quarter of the voting membership.
The House is the youngest and most racially diverse in history, which includes the first Muslim and first Native American women, several African American women for the first time as well as Latinas.
She then spoke of her vision for the House: “Our nation is at a historic moment. Two months ago, the American people spoke and demanded a new dawn.
“They called upon the beauty of our Constitution: Our system of checks and balances that protects our democracy, remembering that the legislative branch is Article I: the first branch of government, coequal to the presidency and to the judiciary.”
Pelosi called on lawmakers to “be pioneers of the future” and work to “redeem the promise of the American Dream for every family, advancing progress for every community”.
She pledged that the House would be the “champions of the middle class,” protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and ensuring that struggling families have “an economy that works for you.”
Pelosi then urged both chambers to “work to put an end to the inaction and denial of science that threaten the planet and the future”, adding that lawmakers will “respect each other, and we will respect the truth.”
She concluded with an announcement that as their first act, House Democrats would be introducing legislation to reopen the government to “meet the needs of the American people, to protect our borders, and to respect our workers”.