Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Years ago, I attended a congressional event about the needs of children that was sponsored by Representative Nancy Pelosi – I can’t remember whether she was Minority Leader or Speaker at that time. Dr. Deborah Frank, a pediatrician and researcher about infant and toddler health, was speaking at the briefing. Unlike many members of Congress, who make an introductory speech at such an event and then rush off without hearing the presentations, Rep. Pelosi sat down in the audience to hear Dr. Frank. I was seated a little behind her, and could see that she was totally absorbed in Dr. Frank’s impassioned presentation about how the consequences of poverty were visited upon the bodies of babies.
I never forgot Speaker Pelosi’s rapt attention. Over the years, her oft-repeated “For the children” exhortation was not just a catch-phrase, but a commitment to pass bills and secure funding to improve the lives of children and their families. And in the years she presided over the House, she acted to fulfill that commitment. During the pandemic, the House enacted increased funding for child care and a historic increase in the Child Tax Credit that reduced child poverty by nearly 40 percent.
Nancy Pelosi did not limit her concern to children. She supported, and continues to support, meeting basic needs for all people. It is acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act would not have passed without her leadership. It is the nation’s good fortune that she was there to exercise her effective leadership in the aftermath of the Great Recession and during the pandemic. Millions of Americans benefited because she cared about the outcome and could pry out the votes as well or better than any other Speaker in our history.
So as we learned last week that Speaker Pelosi would not seek to remain her party’s leader in the new Congress, it’s important to remember all that she achieved, and how many needs were met because she did not just strive for a “win” – but for a win for a purpose.
In a time when far too many elected officials substitute aggrandizement for leadership, a look at the career of Nancy Pelosi is a good reminder of what real leadership can do. She deserves our gratitude.
Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) became Minority Leader in 2003 and then Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011, returning to Minority Leader until 2019, when she again assumed the role of Speaker. Last week, Speaker Pelosi announced that she would not seek the leadership role in the 118th Congress.