Nancy Pelosi has been elected as the speaker of the House Thursday for the second time, calling for unity but acknowledging she had “no illusions” that working with Republicans will be easy in the era of Donald Trump.
Democrats have regained control of the House of Representatives in the new Congress, marking a dramatic power shift on Capitol Hill less than two years before the Republican president’s re-election bid.
The start of the new legislative session once again ushered in an era of divided government in Washington, with Democrats intent on checking Trump’s turbulent White House.
Several lawmakers cheered and applauded at length when Pelosi reclaimed the gavel — a striking comeback for the only woman ever to hold the post.
In her opening speech, Pelosi vowed the new Congress would be “bipartisan and unifying” but acknowledged the reality of Washington’s bitter divisions.
“We have no illusions that our work will be easy, that all of us in this chamber will always agree,” she said.
“But let each of us pledge that when we disagree, we will respect each other and we will respect the truth,” she added, in a likely dig at the president’s aggressive style and his propensity to embellish facts.
While the “blue wave” swept dozens of House Republicans out of Congress last November, Trump’s Republicans managed to modestly expand its majority in the Senate, meaning Washington gridlock is almost certain to deepen.
Vice President Mike Pence swore in the new senators — 53 Republicans hold the majority over 45 Democrats and two independents who align with them.
Among the newcomers is Senator Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who has emerged as a Trump critic.