Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi
House Minority Leader
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Deputy Steny Hoyer
Speaker John Boehner
Preceded by John Boehner
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Deputy Steny Hoyer
Preceded by Dick Gephardt
Succeeded by John Boehner
60th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 4, 2007 – January 3, 2011
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded by Dennis Hastert
Succeeded by John Boehner
House Minority Whip
In office
January 15, 2002 – January 3, 2003
Leader Dick Gephardt
Preceded by David Bonior
Succeeded by Steny Hoyer
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 8th district
Assumed office
January 3, 1993
Preceded by Ron Dellums
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 5th District
In office
June 2, 1987 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by Sala Burton
Succeeded by Bob Matsui
Personal details
Born Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro
March 26, 1940 (1940-03-26) (age 71)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Paul Pelosi (1963–present)
Children Nancy Corinne Pelosi
Christine Pelosi
Jacqueline Pelosi
Paul Pelosi
Alexandra Pelosi
Residence San Francisco
Alma mater Trinity Washington University
Religion Roman Catholicism

Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi[1] (play /pəˈlsi/; born March 26, 1940) is the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives and served as the 60th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011. She was the first woman to hold the office and to date, has been the highest-ranking female politician in American history.[2]

A member of the Democratic Party, Pelosi has represented the 8th Congressional District of California, which consists of four-fifths of the City and County of San Francisco, since 1987. The district was numbered as the 5th during Pelosi's first three terms in the House. She served as the House Minority Whip from 2002 to 2003, and was House Minority Leader from 2003 to 2007, holding the post during the 108th and 109th Congresses. Pelosi is the first woman, the first Californian and first Italian-American to lead a major party in Congress. After the Democrats took control of the House in 2007 and increased their majority in 2009, Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House for the 110th and 111th sessions of Congress.

On November 17, 2010, Pelosi was elected as the Democratic Leader by House Democrats and therefore the Minority Leader in the Republican-controlled House for the 112th Congress.[3]


Early life, education, and early career

Pelosi is Italian-American and was born Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro in Baltimore, Maryland, the youngest of six children of Annunciata M. "Nancy" (née Lombardi) and Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr., who was a Democratic party U.S. Congressman from Maryland and a Mayor of Baltimore.[4][5] Pelosi's brother, Thomas D'Alesandro III, also a Democrat, was mayor of Baltimore from 1967 to 1971, when he declined to run for a second term.

Pelosi was involved with politics from an early age. In her outgoing remarks as the 60th Speaker of the House, Pelosi noted that she had been present at John F. Kennedy's inaugural address as President in January 1961. She graduated from the Institute of Notre Dame, a Catholic all-girls high school in Baltimore, and from Trinity College (now Trinity Washington University) in Washington, D.C., in 1962 with a B.A. in political science. Pelosi interned for Senator Daniel Brewster (D-Maryland) alongside future House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.[6] She met Paul Frank Pelosi (b. April 15, 1940, in San Francisco, California)[7] while she was attending Trinity College.[8] They married in a Catholic church on September 7, 1963. After the couple married, they moved to New York, and then to San Francisco in 1969, where Mr. Pelosi's brother, Ronald Pelosi, was a member of the City and County of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors.[9]

After moving to San Francisco, Pelosi worked her way up in Democratic politics. She became a friend of one of the leaders of the California Democratic Party, 5th District Congressman Phillip Burton.

In 1976, Pelosi was elected as a Democratic National Committee member from California, a position she would hold until 1996.[10] She was elected as party chair for Northern California on January 30, 1977, and for the California Democratic Party, which she held from 1981 until 1983.[10]

Pelosi was appointed Finance Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of the U. S. Senate Democrats, in 1985.[10] That same year, she ran to succeed Chuck Manatt as chair of the Democratic National Committee, but lost to then-DNC Treasurer Paul G. Kirk.[11] Pelosi left her post as DSCC finance chair in 1986.[10]

U.S. House of Representatives


Phillip Burton died in 1983 and was succeeded by his wife, Sala. In late 1986, Sala became ill with cancer and decided not to run for reelection in 1988. She picked Pelosi as her designated successor, guaranteeing her the support of the Burtons' contacts.[12] Sala died on February 1, 1987, just a month after being sworn in for a second full term. Pelosi won the special election to succeed her, narrowly defeating San Francisco Supervisor Harry Britt on April 7, 1987, then easily defeating Republican candidate Harriet Ross on June 2, 1987; Pelosi took office a week later.[13][14]

Pelosi represents one of the safest Democratic districts in the country. Democrats have held the seat since 1949, and Republicans, who currently make up only 13 percent of registered voters in the district, have not made a serious bid for the seat since the early 1960s. Pelosi has kept this tradition going. She won the seat in her own right in 1988 and has been reelected 10 more times with no substantive opposition, winning by an average of 75 percent of the vote. She has not participated in candidates' debates since her 1987 race against Harriet Ross.[15]

She has the distinction of contributing the most among members of Congress to other congressional campaigns because she is in a safe district and does not need the campaign funds.[16]

Committee assignments

In the House, she served on the Appropriations and Intelligence Committees, and was the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee until her election as Minority Leader.[17]

Pre-Speakership career

In 2001, Pelosi was elected the House Minority Whip, second-in-command to Minority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri. She was the first woman in U.S. history to hold that post.

In 2002, after Gephardt resigned as minority leader to seek the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential election, Pelosi was elected to replace him, becoming the first woman to lead a major party in the House.[18]

Speaker of the House


On November 16, 2006, Pelosi was unanimously chosen by her caucus as the Democratic candidate for Speaker, effectively making her Speaker-elect. While the Speaker is elected by the full House membership, in modern practice the election is a formality, since the Speaker always comes from the majority party.

Pelosi supported her longtime friend John Murtha of Pennsylvania for the position of House Majority Leader, the second-ranking post in the House Democratic caucus. His competitor was House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who had been Pelosi's second-in-command since 2003.[19] Pelosi and Hoyer had a somewhat frosty relationship dating back to 2001, when they ran against each other for minority whip. However, Hoyer was elected as House Majority Leader over Murtha by a margin of 149-86 within the caucus.[20]

On January 3, Pelosi defeated Republican John Boehner of Ohio with 233 votes compared to his 202 votes in the election for Speaker of the House.[21] She was nominated by Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the incoming chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and sworn in by her longtime friend John Dingell of Michigan as the Dean of the House of Representatives traditionally does.

Pelosi (right) with Vice President Dick Cheney behind President George W. Bush at the 2007 State of the Union Address making history as the first woman to sit behind the podium at such an address. President Bush acknowledged this by beginning his speech with the words, "Tonight, I have a high privilege and distinct honor of my own — as the first President to begin the State of the Union message with these words: Madam Speaker".[22]

With her election, Pelosi became the first woman, the first Californian, and the first Italian-American to hold the Speakership. She is also the second Speaker from a state west of the Rocky Mountains. The first was Washington's Tom Foley, the last Democrat to hold the post before Pelosi.

During her speech, she discussed the historical importance of being the first female to hold the position of Speaker:

"This is a historic moment — for the Congress, and for the women of this country. It is a moment for which we have waited more than 200 years. Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights. But women weren't just waiting; women were working. Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal. For our daughters and granddaughters, today, we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters, the sky is the limit, anything is possible for them".[23]

She also spoke on Iraq as the major issue facing the 110th Congress, while incorporating some Democratic Party beliefs:

"The election of 2006 was a call to change — not merely to change the control of Congress, but for a new direction for our country. Nowhere were the American people more clear about the need for a new direction than in Iraq. The American people rejected an open-ended obligation to a war without end."[23]


As Speaker, Pelosi was still the leader of the House Democrats; the Speaker is reckoned as the leader of his or her House caucus. However, by tradition, she did not normally participate in debate (though she had the right to do so), and almost never voted on the floor. She was also not a member of any House committees.

Pelosi was re-elected Speaker in 2009.

A CBS News poll conducted in March 2010 found that 37% of registered voters have an unfavorable opinion of the speaker, with 11% approving.[24] According to a March 2010 Rasmussen poll, 64% of voters nationally view the speaker unfavorably, and 29% have a favorable opinion of Pelosi.[25]

Social Security Mandate

Shortly after winning re-election, President George W. Bush claimed a mandate for an ambitious second-term agenda and proposed reforming Social Security by allowing workers to redirect a portion of their Social Security withholding into stock and bond investments.[26] Pelosi strongly opposed the plan, saying there was no crisis, and as minority leader she imposed intense party discipline on her caucus, leading them to near-unanimous opposition to Bush's proposal, and subsequent defeat of the proposed plan.[27][28]

Blocking of impeachment proceedings against President Bush

In the wake of President George W. Bush's reelection in 2004, several leading House Democrats believed that Democrats should pursue impeachment proceedings against the president. They asserted that Bush had misled Congress about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and had violated the civil liberties of Americans by authorizing wiretaps without a warrant.

In May 2006, with an eye on the upcoming congressional elections – which offered the possibility of Democrats taking back control of the House for the first time since 1994 – Pelosi told colleagues that, while the Democrats would conduct vigorous oversight of Bush administration policy, an impeachment investigation was "off the table". (A week earlier, she had told the Washington Post that, although Democrats would not set out to impeach the president, "you never know where" investigations might lead.)[29]

After becoming Speaker of the House in January 2007, Pelosi held firm against impeachment, notwithstanding strong support for that course of action among constituents in her home district. In the November 2008 election, Pelosi withstood a challenge for her seat by anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who ran as an independent primarily because of Pelosi's refusal to pursue impeachment.[30]

The "Hundred Hours"

Prior to the U.S. 2006 midterm elections, Pelosi announced a plan for action: If elected, she and the newly empowered Democratic caucus would push through most of its program during the first hundred hours of the 110th Congress' term.[31]

The origin for the name "first hundred hours" is a play on words derived from former Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt's promise for quick action on the part of government (to combat the Great Depression) during his "first hundred days" in office. Newt Gingrich, who became Speaker of the House in 1995, had a similar 100-day agenda to implement the Contract with America.

Opposition to Iraq War troop surge of 2007

On January 5, 2007, reacting to suggestions from President Bush's confidantes that he would increase troop levels in Iraq (which he announced in a speech a few days later), Pelosi joined with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to condemn the plan. They sent Bush a letter saying, "[T]here is no purely military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution. Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain. ... Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror."[32]

2008 Democratic National Convention
Pelosi conducts convention business during the first day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

Pelosi was named Permanent Chair of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.[33]

Post-Speakership career

Though Pelosi was re-elected by a comfortable margin in the 2010 midterm elections, the Democrats lost 63 seats and ceded control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans. Despite the electoral setback suffered by her party, Pelosi sought to continue leading the House Democratic Caucus in the position of Minority Leader, the office she held prior to becoming Speaker. After Pelosi's disparate intra-party opposition failed to pass a motion to delay the leadership vote,[34] Pelosi was elected Minority Leader for the 112th Congress.

Political positions

Pelosi was a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, but left in 2003 after being elected Minority Leader. Her longtime friend Jim McDermott of Washington told Newsweek that he and other left-leaning Democratic congressmen sometimes wish that "she would tilt a little more our way from time to time". As Speaker, Pelosi has tried to focus more on economic than social issues.[35]

In San Francisco, Pelosi has experienced conflicts with anti-war activists.[36][37] Nonetheless, she has never faced a serious challenger in the Democratic primary or from the Green Party, which is competitive in local elections.

On September 2, 2008, she visited Hiroshima, Japan, for a G8 summit meeting of lower house speakers and offered flowers in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing. While many world leaders have visited Hiroshima over the years, she is the highest-ever sitting U.S. official to pay her respects.[38]


Pelosi with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during a trip to China in 2009.

On March 21, 2008, Pelosi criticized the People's Republic of China for its handling of the unrest in Tibet and called on "freedom-loving people" worldwide to denounce China.[39] She was quoted as saying, "The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world", while addressing a crowd of thousands of Tibetans in Dharamsala, India.[39] She however did not call for a boycott of the 2008 Summer Olympics that were held in Beijing.[40]

On October 24, 2008, Pelosi commended the European Parliament for its "bold decision" to award the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Chinese dissident and human rights activist Hu Jia. Pelosi's statement read, "I call on the Chinese government to immediately and unconditionally release Hu Jia from prison and to respect the fundamental freedoms of all the people in China."[41]


Pelosi publicly scolded Colombian President Álvaro Uribe during Uribe's May 2007 state trip to America. Pelosi met with Uribe and later released a statement that she and other members of Congress had "expressed growing concerns about the serious allegations" of links between Paramilitary groups and Colombian government officials.[42] Pelosi also came out against the Colombian free trade agreement.[43]


Pelosi voted in favor of keeping the travel restrictions on American citizens to Cuba, until the President has certified that Cuba has released all political prisoners, and extradited all individuals sought by the U.S. on charges of air piracy, drug trafficking and murder.[44]


In a February 15, 2007, interview, Pelosi noted that Bush consistently said he supports a diplomatic resolution to differences with Iran "and I take him at his word". At the same time, she said, "I do believe that Congress should assert itself, though, and make it very clear that there is no previous authority for the president, any president, to go into Iran".[45][46] On January 12, 2007, Congressman Walter B. Jones of North Carolina introduced a resolution[47] requiring that — absent a national emergency created by an attack, or a demonstrably imminent attack, by Iran upon the United States or its armed forces — the President must consult with Congress and receive specific authorization prior to initiating any use of military force against Iran.[48] This resolution was removed from a military spending bill for the war in Iraq by Pelosi on March 13, 2007.


In mid-October 2007, after the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution to label the 1915 killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide, Pelosi pledged to bring the measure to a vote.[49] The draft resolution prompted warnings from President Bush and fierce criticism from Turkey, with Turkey's prime minister saying that approval of the resolution would endanger U.S.-Turkey relations.[50] After House support eroded, the measure's sponsors dropped their call for a vote, and in late October Pelosi agreed to set the matter aside.[51]

Use of government aircraft

In March 2009, the New York Post wrote that the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch obtained emails sent by Pelosi's staff which requested that the United States Air Force (USAF) provide specific aircraft — a Boeing 757 — for Pelosi to use for taxpayer-funded travel.[52][53][54] Pelosi responded that the policy was initiated by President Bush due to post-9/11 security concerns (Pelosi was third in line for presidential succession) and was initially provided for the previous Speaker, Dennis Hastert. The Sergeant at Arms requested, for security reasons, that the plane provided be capable of non-stop flight, requiring a larger aircraft. The Pentagon said "no one has rendered judgment" that Pelosi's use of aircraft "is excessive."[55]


Pelosi voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 and earlier attempts at similar bans, and voted against the criminalization of certain situations where a minor is transported across state lines for an abortion (HR 748, passed).[56]

She has voted in favor of lifting the ban on privately funded abortions at U.S. military facilities overseas (HA 209, rejected), in favor of an amendment that would repeal a provision that forbids service women and dependents from getting an abortion in overseas military hospitals (HA 722, rejected), in favor of stripping the prohibition of funding for organizations working overseas that uses its own funds to provide abortion services or engage in advocacy related to abortion services (HA 997, rejected). She also voted in favor of the 1998 Abortion Funding Amendment, which would have allowed the use of district funds to promote abortion-related activities, but would have prohibited the use of federal funds.[56]

In February 2009, Pelosi met with her bishop, Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco, and with Pope Benedict XVI as a result of comments made by Pelosi to Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press that many observers felt inaccurately portrayed Church teaching on the subject of abortion and the beginning of life.[57][58]

Fiscal/monetary policy

Pelosi voted against the 1995 Balanced Budget Proposed Constitutional Amendment, which was passed by the House by a 300-132 vote, but in the Senate fell two votes short of the 2/3 supermajority required (with 65 out of 100 Senators voting in favor).[59]

As Speaker of the House, she also spearheaded the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 as part of the 100-Hour Plan. The Act raises the minimum wage in the United States and the territories of the Northern Marianas Islands and American Samoa. American Samoa was initially absent from the act, but as part of HR 2206 it was included. One Republican congressman who voted against the initial bill accused Pelosi of unethically benefiting Del Monte Foods (headquartered in her district) by the exclusion of the territory, where Del Monte's StarKist Tuna brand is a major employer.[60] Pelosi co-sponsored legislation that omitted American Samoa from a raise in the minimum wage as early as 1999, prior to Del Monte's acquisition of StarKist Tuna in 2002.[61] As of the 2002, 2004, and 2006 election cycles, Del Monte has not contributed to Democratic candidates.[62]

Pelosi opposed the welfare reform proposed by then-President Bush as well as reforms proposed and passed under President Clinton.[63]

Civil liberties

The American Civil Liberties Union's Congressional Scorecard has given Pelosi a lifetime rating of 92% for her voting record on civil liberties.[64] In 2001, she voted in favor of the USA Patriot Act, but voted against reauthorization of certain provisions in 2005.[65] She voted against a Constitutional amendment banning flag-burning[66] and against a Congressional resolution supporting the display of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms.


In a January 25, 2009, interview with George Stephanopoulos for ABC News, Pelosi said, "Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government."[67]


Pelosi voted for the No Child Left Behind Act, which instituted testing to track students' progress and authorized an increase in overall education spending.[68]


President George W. Bush and Pelosi honor 300 Tuskegee Airmen at the Capitol building, March 2007

Pelosi has supported the development of new technologies to reduce U.S. dependence upon foreign oil and remediate the adverse environmental effects of burning fossil fuels.[69] Pelosi has widely supported conservation programs and energy research appropriations. She has also voted to remove an amendment that would allow for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.[70]

Pelosi has blocked efforts to revive offshore oil drilling in protected areas, reasoning that offshore drilling could lead to an increase in dependence on fossil fuels.[71]

Health care

Speaker Pelosi was instrumental in the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Pelosi was a key figure in convincing President Barack Obama to continue pushing for health care reform after the election of Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown in a January special election, a defeat that was seen as potentially fatal to Democratic reform efforts.[72] After delivering 219 votes in the House for Obama's signature health care package, Pelosi was both praised and heckled as she made her way to Capitol Hill.[73]

Pelosi has voted to increase Medicare and Medicaid benefits.[74]


Pelosi voted against the Secure Fence Act of 2006.[75]

Iraq War

In 2002, Pelosi opposed the Iraq Resolution authorizing President Bush to use military force against Iraq,[76] while stating that Iraq, like "other countries of concern", had WMDs.[77] In explaining her opposition to the resolution, Pelosi noted that Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet had told Congress that the likelihood of Iraq's Saddam Hussein launching an attack on the U.S. using weapons of mass destruction was low. "This is about the Constitution", Pelosi said. "It is about this Congress asserting its right to declare war when we are fully aware what the challenges are to us. It is about respecting the United Nations and a multilateral approach, which is safer for our troops." Despite Pelosi's opposition, Congress still passed a resolution authorizing President Bush to use the Armed Forces of the United States against Iraq.[78]


Pelosi reaffirms that "America and Israel share an unbreakable bond: in peace and war; and in prosperity and in hardship".[79] Pelosi emphasized that "a strong relationship between the United States and Israel has long been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. America's commitment to the safety and security of the State of Israel is unwavering,...[h]owever, the war in Iraq has made both America and Israel less safe." Pelosi's voting record shows consistent support for Israel. Prior to 2006 elections in the Palestinian Authority, she voted for a Congressional initiative disapproving of participation in the elections by Hamas and other organizations defined as terrorist by the legislation. She agrees with the current U.S. stance in support of land-for-peace. She has applauded Israeli "hopeful signs" of offering land, while criticizing Palestinian "threats" of not demonstrating peace in turn. She states, "If the Palestinians agree to coordinate with Israel on the evacuation, establish the rule of law, and demonstrate a capacity to govern, the world may be convinced that finally there is a real partner for peace".[79]

During the 2006 Lebanon War, Pelosi voted in favor of Resolution 921 on the count that "the seizure of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah terrorists was an unprovoked attack and Israel has the right, and indeed the obligation, to respond". She argues that organizations and political bodies in the Mideast like Hamas and Hezbollah "have a greater interest in maintaining a state of hostility with Israel than in improving the lives of the people they claim to represent". Pelosi asserts that civilians on both sides of the border "have been put at risk by the aggression of Hamas and Hezbollah" in part for their use of "civilians as shields by concealing weapons in civilian areas".[80]

In September 2008, Pelosi hosted a reception in Washington with Israeli Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik, along with 20 members of Congress, where they toasted the "strong friendship" between Israel and the United States. During the ceremony, Pelosi held up the replica dog tags of the three Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah and Hamas in 2006 and stated that she keeps them as a "symbol of the sacrifices made, sacrifices far too great by the people of the state of Israel".[81]

First Gulf War

Pelosi opposed U.S. intervention in the 1991 Gulf War.[63][82]

LGBT rights

Pelosi received a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign for the 107th, 108th, and 109th sessions of Congress, indicating that she voted in agreement with HRC's slate of pro-gay legislative issues.[83] In 1996 she voted against the Defense of Marriage Act,[84] and in 2004 and 2006, she voted against the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, which would amend the United States Constitution to define marriage federally as being between one man and one woman, thereby overriding states' individual rights to legalize gay marriage.[85][86] When the Supreme Court of California overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage, Pelosi released a statement welcoming the "historic decision." She voiced her opposition to Proposition 8, the successful ballot initiative, which defined marriage in California as a union between one man and one woman.[87]

Marijuana legalization

Pelosi supports reform in marijuana laws.[88] She also supports use of medical marijuana.[89]

Military draft

Speaker-designate Pelosi and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer meeting with President George W. Bush on November 9, 2006

In regard to Representative Charles Rangel's (D-NY) plan to introduce legislation that would reinstate the draft, Pelosi stated that she did not support such legislation.[90]


Pelosi supports the Syria Accountability Act and Iran Freedom and Support Act. In a speech at the AIPAC 2005 annual conference, Pelosi said that "for too long, leaders from both parties haven't done enough" to put pressure on Russia and China who are providing Iran with technological information on nuclear issues and missiles. "If evidence of participation by other nations in Iran's nuclear program is discovered, I will insist that the Administration use, rather than ignore, the evidence in determining how the U.S. deals with that nation or nations on other issues."[91]


Pelosi has stated that she opposes the interrogation technique of waterboarding.[92]

According to the CIA, while Pelosi was the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, she was told about enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding authorized for a captured terrorist, Abu Zubaydah,[93][94][95] in one hour-long briefing in 2002. After the briefing, Pelosi said she "was assured by lawyers with the CIA and the Department of Justice that the methods were legal."[96] Two unnamed former Bush Administration officials say that the briefing was detailed and graphic, and at the time she didn't raise substantial objections.[97] One unnamed U.S. official present during the early briefings said, "In fairness, the environment was different then because we were closer to September 11 and people were still in a panic. But there was no objecting, no hand-wringing. The attitude was, 'We don't care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.' "

However, several top Democratic lawmakers in the House signed a letter on June 26, 2009, alleging that CIA Director Leon Panetta had asserted that the CIA misled Congress for a "number of years" spanning back to 2001, casting more clouds on the controversy.[98] Neither letter, lawmakers or the CIA provided details and the murky circumstances surrounding the allegations make it hard to assess the claims and counterclaims of both sides.[99]

Officials in Congress say her ability to challenge the practices was hampered by strict rules of secrecy that prohibited her from being able to take notes or consult legal experts or members of her own staffs.[100] In an April 2009 press conference, Pelosi stated, "In that or any other briefing…we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used. What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel -- the Office of Legislative Counsel opinions that they could be used, but not that they would. And they further -- further, the point was that if and when they would be used, they would brief Congress at that time"[101][102] Pelosi's office stated that she later protested the technique and that she concurred with objections raised by Democratic colleague Jane Harman in a letter to the CIA in early 2003.[92]

On President Bush

In mid-July 2008, two days after President George W. Bush stated that Congress was ineffective and said, "This is not a record to be proud of, and I think the American people deserve better",[103] Pelosi responded by calling the president "a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the war, on the economy, on energy, you name the subject" and that Congress had been "sweeping up after his mess over and over and over again".[103]

Electoral history

Pelosi's only close race so far has been the special election to succeed Sala Burton's seat after her death in February 1987. In the special election's Democratic primary, Pelosi narrowly defeated San Francisco Supervisor Harry Britt, considered the more "progressive" candidate, with 36 percent of the vote to his 32 percent.[12][104] In the runoff against Republican candidate Harriet Ross, Pelosi received more than a 2-to-1 majority of votes cast in a turnout that comprised about 24% of eligible voters.[105] Since then, Pelosi has enjoyed overwhelming support in her political career, collecting 76 and 77 percent of the vote in California's 5th congressional district for the 1988 and 1990 Race for U.S. House of Representatives. In 1992, after the redistricting from the 1990 Census, Pelosi ran in California's 8th congressional district, which now covered the San Francisco area. She has continued to post landslide victories since, dropping beneath 80 percent of the vote only twice.

Personal background


Her husband, since 1963, is Paul Pelosi. They have five children: Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul, and Alexandra, as well as eight grandchildren. Alexandra, a journalist, covered the Republican presidential campaigns in 2000 and made a film about the experience, Journeys with George. In 2007, Christine published a book, Campaign Boot Camp: Basic Training for Future Leaders.[106]

Pelosi lives in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco.

Financial status

Nancy Pelosi is among the richest members of Congress,[107] with an estimated net worth of approximately $58 million, the 12th highest estimated net worth in Congress, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics[108]

While members of Congress are not required to disclose their exact net worth, organizations such as the Center for Responsive Politics prepare estimated ranges based on public disclosures. The CRP's midpoint estimate of the Pelosis' net worth is $58,436,537 as of 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available, with a possible range from $7 million to $124 million.[109]

In addition to their large portfolio of jointly owned San Francisco Bay Area real estate, the couple also owns a vineyard in St. Helena, California, valued between $5 million and $25 million.[citation needed] Pelosi's husband also owns stock, including $1 million in Apple Inc.[citation needed], and is the owner of the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League.

Involvement in Italian-American community

Pelosi is a board member of the National Organization of Italian American Women.[110] Additionally, Pelosi served for 13 years as a board member of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF). In 2007, she received the NIAF Special Achievement Award for Public Advocacy and continues to be involved in the Foundation today.

See also

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Further reading

  • Dabbous, Y., Ladley, A. (2010), "A spine of steel and a heart of gold: Newspaper coverage of the first female speaker of the house", Journal of Gender Studies 19 (2), pp. 181–194

External links


United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sala Burton
Member of the House of Representatives
from California's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Robert Matsui
Preceded by
Ronald Dellums
Member of the House of Representatives
from California's 8th congressional district

Party political offices
Preceded by
David Bonior
Minority Whip of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Steny Hoyer
Preceded by
Dick Gephardt
Minority Leader of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
John Boehner
Preceded by
Dick Gephardt
Democratic Party Leader of the United States House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Bill Richardson
Permanent Chairperson of the Democratic National Convention
Succeeded by
Most recent
Preceded by
John Boehner
Minority Leader of the House of Representatives
Political offices
Preceded by
Dennis Hastert
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
John Boehner
United States order of precedence
Preceded by
Fred Upton
Representatives of the United States by seniority
Succeeded by
Jerry Costello

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