After almost 20 years of leadership, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last month she would not seek re-election to Democratic leadership in the next Congress, making way for a new generation of Democratic leaders and leaving a tremendous legacy that materially improved the lives of tens of millions of Americans. During her tenure, Speaker Pelosi made history many times over as the first woman leader of the House, the longest-serving person in that role ever and the highest-ranking woman in government until the election of Vice President Kamala Harris, just two years ago.
Since 2007, Speaker Pelosi led Democrats in the House of Representatives through some of the greatest challenges of our time including the election of President Trump, which put at risk everything from national security to domestic healthcare coverage. When Pelosi started in Congress in 1987, there were only 12 Democratic elected women in Congress. Since that time, the number has grown to more than 90 and the number of people of color representing districts has also ticked upward. As she said during her tenure, she saw Congress “grow more reflective of our great nation, our beautiful nation.” Among new members of the next Democratic caucus, about 75 percent are women, people of color, and L.G.B.T.Q.
Pelosi leaves a tremendous track record of accomplishments in her wake, particularly passage of the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA) that provides coverage to more than 40 million people, and eliminated gender discrimination in health coverage, The ACA brought the number of people without coverage to historic lows. The law stopped insurance companies from charging women more than men for the same insurance policy, made birth control and preventive care free, and disproportionately helped Black and Brown Americans who have historically been the most likely to lack coverage while also the most likely to suffer from chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes.
Pelosi has called the passage of health care reform her most significant accomplishment but it’s certainly not an isolated one.
She was the leading force in uniting the Democratic caucus to pass many more policies over the last two decades that help Americans, including Dodd Frank financial reforms, COVID relief packages that saved millions of lives and, most recently, the historic Inflation Reduction Act that for the first time will lower drug prices through Medicare negotiations and will cap out of pocket costs on prescriptions for Medicare enrollees.
Fundamental to Speaker Pelosi’s leadership is her love of democracy and her commitment to serving the people of the nation through public policy reforms and protecting democratic institutions. Although she will no longer manage the gavel, Pelosi will continue to serve as a Member of Congress representing her own district in CA and providing support to the new leaders. At 82, she will continue to work tirelessly to protect the many accomplishments she led and to continue paving the way for more improvements.
HCAN, along with many of our allies and partners, is proud to have worked in partnership with Speaker Pelosi to pass landmark health laws that have impacted so many lives. We could not have done it without her indefatigable energy, leadership and integrity. We will honor her legacy by continuing to protect and expand quality, affordable health care for everyone in our country.