Speed Reads

Touch of Civility

Past GOP House speakers congratulate Nancy Pelosi on her 'remarkable, historic' tenure

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Thursday that she will step down as leader of the House Democrats, a position she has held since 2003, but remain in Congress when Republicans take control of the House next January. Democrats were effusive in their praise for Pelosi, but most current House Republicans were not. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not attend her leadership retirement speech, telling reporters later that he "had meetings" and wished he "could have been there."

Other recent Republican congressional leaders did congratulate Pelosi on her long and historic tenure as House speaker. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has been Republican leader in the Senate since Pelosi was first elected speaker in 2007, issued a statement Thursday night congratulating her "on concluding her historic tenure as House Democrats' leader and her second stint as speaker of the House. The speaker and I have disagreed frequently and forcefully over the years, but I have seen firsthand the depth and intensity of her commitment to public service. There is no question that the impact of Speaker Pelosi's consequential and path-breaking career will long endure."

Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who succeeded Pelosi after Republicans captured the House in 2010, tweeted his congratulations. 

And former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who served after Boehner from 2015 until 2019, when Pelosi began her second turn leading the House, welcomed her (back) to the exclusive former speaker's club. 

"The thing about Pelosi is that, despite massive policy differences, most Republicans privately marvel about just how effective she is," Punchbowl News founder Jake Sherman, a long time Washington political reporter, tweeted Thursday. "They know that she is almost always able to get done what she sets out to do. Why? Unlike the other speakers and leaders I've covered in the House, Pelosi inspires incredibly intense loyalty but also fear."

"Republicans never really feared Boehner and Ryan the way they feared Pelosi," Sherman added. "It's been quite something to watch over the years. She, by far, has the strongest grip on her caucus of any other leaders I've covered."