WASHINGTON (AP) — Nancy Pelosi promised as speaker she would “show the power of the gavel.”
This year, she laid it out for all to see.
The past week alone, the Democratic leader delivered a $1.4 trillion government funding package to stop a shutdown, pushed through the bipartisan U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, and passed her party’s plan to lower prescription drug costs. In between, she led a congressional delegation to Europe for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.
And on Wednesday, she impeached the president.
As the first year of Pelosi’s second stint as speaker draws to a close — she is the only woman to hold the office, and the first speaker in 60 years to reclaim the gavel after losing it — the California Democrat took stock of whether she fulfilled her campaign trail promise.
“Donald Trump thinks so,“ Pelosi told The Associated Press during an interview Thursday at her office in the Capitol.
”He just got impeached. He’ll be impeached forever. No matter what the Senate does. He’s impeached forever because he violated our Constitution,” she said.
“If I did nothing else, he saw the power of the gavel there,” Pelosi told the AP. “And it wasn’t me, it was all of our members making their own decision.”
Not since an earlier era of leaders — like Sam Rayburn, whose name is on a building at the Capitol, or Newt Gingrich, who defined a political movement — has the House speaker wielded such influence.
“She has governed with force and authority,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public policy at Princeton.
Zelizer said Pelosi has accomplished with Trump what others have not, which is to build a coalition strong enough to hold the president accountable, through impeachment, while also muscling through big bills. This, on top of what she did during her first term in the office.
“She is likely to go down in history as one of the most effective Speakers,” he said.
Congress often runs toward a big year-end finish as lawmakers try to rack up accomplishments for the elections ahead. Lame-duck sessions, which this year is not, are often particularly robust as members capitalize on the narrow calendar window after the election but before the new Congress forms.
Former Speaker Paul Ryan delivered the GOP’s sweeping tax cuts package in December 2017. Former Speaker John Boehner tried to secure the fiscal cliff deal of tax and spending cuts at the end of 2012, and it was eventually approved at New Year’s.