HomeLearning CenterPelosi Shattered the Marble Ceiling and Leaves a Historic Leadership Legacy

Pelosi Shattered the Marble Ceiling and Leaves a Historic Leadership Legacy

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shattered the so-called “marble ceiling” in Congress during her two decade career as a leader in those halls.

Hers has been a career of firsts — the first woman to be elected speaker of the House — and she occupied a particularly high-profile position during some of the most pivotal and, often volatile, moments in recent American political history.

Her tenure has spanned the Iraq War, a financial crisis “from the depths of hell” as Pelosi later described it, sweeping legislation to regulate Wall Street, expanding health insurance coverage to millions of Americans, a nuclear arms treaty with Russia and a repeal of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays serving in the armed forces.

She became the first speaker to launch two impeachments against the same sitting president, Donald Trump, including for his role in inciting the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol during the counting of electoral votes to affirm Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory. Pelosi joined with other leaders to reconvene Congress that evening to finish the count. Both impeachments fell along party lines and he was acquitted by the GOP-controlled Senate.

Her pivotal role in these particularly acrimonious moments in recent political history often drew the ire of opponents and made her the target of criticism and physical threats. Prosecutors said the recent attack on Paul Pelosi, her husband, in the couple’s San Francisco home was politically motivated.

Ultimately, however, her decision to step down was centered on making room for a new generation of leadership.


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