Representative Nancy Pelosi of California has decided to stay in Congress and serve as House Democratic leader for another two years, an aide said Wednesday.
House Democrats had made it clear that she could stay in the position if she decided not to retire, which had been considered a possibility. Her decision puts her at the fulcrum of the impending debate over fiscal issues.
Ms. Pelosi, 72, had been privately weighing whether she wanted to continue in the role given the likelihood that regaining the majority would be difficult in the midterm elections. Her departure would have opened the door to Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, currently the No. 2 Democrat, to step in to the leadership slot but he will have to continue to bide his time.
In January 2007, Ms. Pelosi became the first woman to serve as speaker of the House. She ceded that post to Representative John A. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, with the Republican victories in the 2010 midterm elections.
Despite the steep losses for her party that cost it control of the House, Ms. Pelosi was elected as House minority leader just over two weeks later.
There is no filibuster in the House, meaning that a unified majority can get its way. That often makes the minority leader a relatively powerless position — but not when the speaker needs votes from the minority to offset defections from his own party, as is likely to be the case with any resolution of the fiscal issues currently facing Congress.
As speaker, Ms. Pelosi was notably resolute and a lightning rod for Republican criticism. She kept the often fractious Democratic majority united enough to pass a string of sweeping bills. Some of them became law, most notably the health care bill, financial regulatory reform and the stimulus package, but many of them foundered or were watered down in the Senate, like the cap-and-trade energy bill adopted by the House in 2009 at significant political cost.
The passage of the health care overhaul in March 2010 was seen as largely her doing; the pivotal vote came on a Sunday night after a week of strenuous arm-twisting by Ms. Pelosi, as she made deals with centrist Democrats and kept wavering party members in line.
In the process Ms. Pelosi became almost as large a target for Republicans as President Obama. Dozens of candidates were tarred, often successfully, as “Pelosi Democrats.”
She was re-elected easily to her San Francisco seat in 2010 and again this month.
This article, "Pelosi to Remain in Congress and Continue as Democratic Leader," originally appears at the New York Times News Service.