Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi (born March 26, 1940) is the House Minority Leader of the 109th Congress of the United States and is expected to be the Speaker of the House for the 110th Congress. Since 1987, she has been the Democratic Representative from the 8th district of California, which falls entirely within and includes most of the city and county of San Francisco (except for a tiny portion within the neighboring 12th District). Her district was numbered as the 5th District until 1993.
As a result of the Democrats winning a majority of seats in the recent 2006 midterm elections, Pelosi is expected to be elected the next Speaker of the House when Congress reconvenes in January 2007 for the 110th Congress of the United States. While the Speaker is formally elected by the full House, this election is almost always a formality since the Speaker usually comes from the majority party in the chamber. Pelosi is the first woman to lead a major political party in either house of Congress, and once formally elected, she would be the first woman to serve as Speaker. She would also be the first Californian or Italian American to hold the post, and the second Speaker from west of the Rockies (behind fellow Democrat Tom Foley of Washington). As Speaker, she would rank second in the presidential line of succession (behind the Vice President).
Early life and career
Pelosi was born Nancy D'Alesandro to Italian American parents in Baltimore, Maryland. The youngest of six children, she was involved with politics from an early age. Her father, Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr., was a U.S. Congressman from Maryland and a Mayor of Baltimore. While he was mayor, Nancy helped him maintain a ledger of political favors owed or performed. Her brother, Thomas L. J. D'Alesandro III, also served as Mayor of Baltimore, from 1967 to 1971.
Pelosi graduated from Baltimore's Institute of Notre Dame high school and from Trinity College (now Trinity Washington University) in Washington, D.C. in 1962, where she met Paul Pelosi. When the couple married, they moved to his hometown of San Francisco, where his brother was a member of the city's board of supervisors (San Francisco city and county council).
After her youngest child became a high school senior, Pelosi worked her way up in Democratic politics to become party chairwoman for Northern California, and joined forces with one of the leaders of the California Democratic Party, 5th District Congressman Phillip Burton.
Pelosi is an honorary board member of the National Organization of Italian American Women.
Pelosi has five children: Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul and Alexandra. Alexandra, a journalist, covered the Republican presidential campaigns in 2000 and made a movie about the experience, Journeys with George. She also covered the campaigns in 2004 and wrote a book on it.
The Pelosi family has a net worth of over $25 million, mainly from Paul Pelosi's investments. Besides a large portfolio of jointly owned San Francisco Bay Area real estate, he also has millions of dollars worth of shares in publicly traded companies such as Microsoft, Amazon.com and AT&T. In 2003, the Pelosi family sold their 8 acre Rutherford vineyard.
Pelosi and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer
meeting with George W. Bush on November 9, 2006
Phillip Burton died in 1984 and was succeeded by his wife, Sala. In late 1986, Sala became ill with cancer. She decided not to run for reelection in 1988, and suggested that Pelosi run in her place. Burton died on February 1, 1987, just a month after being sworn in for a second full term. Pelosi won a special election to succeed her, narrowly defeating left-wing San Francisco Supervisor Harry Britt, and took office on June 2, 1987. She was subsequently elected to a full term in 1988.
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 has never won with less than 80% of the vote, and has never participated in a candidates' debate.
In the House, she served on the Appropriations and Intelligence Committees, and spent much time raising funds for other members. She was the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee for two years.
Democratic Party leadership
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 reach that position. Since then, she has campaigned for candidates in 30 states and in 90 Congressional districts.
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.
Democratic Nomination for Speaker of the House
On November 16, 2006, Pelosi was unanimously chosen as the Democratic candidate for Speaker, effectively making her Speaker-elect. 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, over House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who had been her second-in-command since 2003. 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.
Pelosi with Lance Armstrong
Political platform and voting record
Pelosi voted for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act in 2001, legislation that made it a federal crime to commit violence against a pregnant woman that results in the death of her unborn child. In 2004, Pelosi voted against the measure when it was reintroduced with a new definition of a violent attack on a pregnant woman as two distinct crimes: one against the woman herself, and the other against her unborn child.
Pelosi has voted "yes" for both federal funding of abortion facilities and for financial aid to such organizations. Pelosi has a long record of voting for abortion rights. Since 1995, Pelosi has voted against challenges to the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the landmark abortion case of Roe vs. Wade.
Pelosi has a reputation of being generally supportive of the agriculture sector in her district. However, agriculture as an industry does not have a big impact in her mostly urban district, so Pelosi's votes regarding subsidies for the industry have varied. Pelosi was criticized by the agriculture industry when she voted against the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002.
Budget and taxes
Pelosi supports federal funding of government programs with tax increases when necessary. She has supported many bills which would increase assistance to the poor and disadvantaged while increasing taxes on higher wage earners.
Pelosi has also voted against repealing the Estate Tax. She has been an advocate for a balanced budget, though she voted against the 1995 Balanced Budget Proposed Constitutional Amendment, which was passed by the House almost strictly along party lines, but was twice rejected by the Senate.
Pelosi has voted for protection of civil liberties and First Amendment rights. She voted against laws banning flag-burning. She has voted for and been a strong supporter of the separation of church and state. She has also been an opponent of the Federal Marriage Amendment and supports the enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment barring discrimination based on race.
Pelosi supported the No Child Left Behind Act in May of 2001, which instituted testing to track students' progress and authorized an increase in overall education spending.
Environment and energy
Pelosi has supported the development of new technologies to reduce U.S. dependence upon foreign oil and ameliorate the adverse environmental effects of burning fossil fuels. She has widely supported conservation programs and energy research appropriations. She has also voted against ANWR Drilling.
Pelosi sponsored the Hunger to Harvest bill, which urges the President to:
Nancy Pelosi during the 2006 Chinese new year
celebrations in San Francisco
After the Tiananmen protests of 1989, Pelosi became a vocal critic of the government of the People's Republic of China, sponsoring the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992. Pelosi voted against giving permanent Normal Trade Relations with China.
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 US on charges of air piracy, drug trafficking and murder.
Israel and the Middle East conflict
Pelosi reaffirms that "America and Israel share an unbreakable bond: in peace and war; and in prosperity and in hardship." 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, regardless of which party is in power. However, the war in Iraq has made both America and Israel less safe." Pelosi's voting record shows she has consistently supported Israel. Prior to 2006 elections in the Palestinian Authority, she voted in favor of a Congress initiative not to support Hamas's participation in the elections. She agrees with the formal U.S. stance in support of a land-for-peace arrangement, which Israel is drafting. 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."
Pelosi supports the Syria Accountability Act and Iran Freedom and Support Act. In a speech given 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 US deals with that nation or nations on other issues."
Pelosi has defended Israel from the accusation that claims the Arab-Israeli conflict is based on Israel's control of the West Bank and Gaza. "This is absolute nonsense. In truth, the history of the conflict is not over occupation, and never has been: it is over the fundamental right of Israel to exist."
During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, 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 asserts 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 argues that civilians on both sides 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."
Pelosi strongly condemns North Korea's missile launches. "North Korea is moving outside the circle of acceptable behavior and is threatening the region, the United States, and the world," she says. "We must use every possible tool to stop North Korea’s unacceptable, provocative actions including six party, multilateral, and bilateral diplomatic negotiations."
Pelosi has voted to limit the ownership of firearms and concealed weapons. She voted against the 24 Hour Background Check Amendment bill. She later voted for an amendment to this bill that would extend the waiting period to 72 hours. She also voted against the Gun Ban Repeal Act of 1995.
Pelosi has voted to increase Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
Pelosi has been a supporter of immigrant rights. She voted against the Secure Fence Act of 2006.
Lobbyist guidelines and ethics issues
Pelosi introduced the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act to Congress.
Pelosi has voted for increasing the federal minimum wage.
The War on Terrorism
In 1998 Pelosi stated that Saddam Hussein "has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology."
After 2001, Pelosi has generally supported spending for national defense in areas of the War on Terrorism.
Pelosi voted for the USA Patriot Act, which she now opposes.
In 2002, Pelosi opposed the Iraq Resolution authorizing President Bush to use military force against Iraq, while stating that Iraq, like "other countries of concern" had WMD. She has begun to strongly criticize the war strategy, and has introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2006 Defense Appropriations bill calling on President Bush to specify a strategy for success in Iraq, as well as a timetable for the safe withdrawal of American troops.
Iraq: more thoughts for the future - independent comment
In regards to Representative Charles Rangel's plan to introduce legislature that would reinstate the draft, Nancy Pelosi, as the currently proposed Speaker of the House for the 110th Congress, stated that she did not support such legislation.
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