Surrounded by her grandchildren and other children, Nancy Pelosi on Thursday gaveled in her historic second stint as Speaker of the House of Representatives, a position that makes her the most powerful woman in US politics and the face of Democratic opposition to President Donald Trump.

“I now call the House to order on behalf of all America’s children,” she said as she banged the gavel on the table.

A veteran of Washington power play, Pelosi is only the second woman to hold the position of speaker in US history. She is also the first, when she took the gavel in 2007 and held it till 2011, over two two-year terms of the House. She had since been the head of House Democrats, as minority leader.

She will meet Trump for the first time after her election on Friday to discuss ways to end the shutdown, with neither leader willing to back down. This is only the first of many confrontations that is expected to take place between the two most powerful people in Washington.

Both leaders have said they are willing to work with each other — they don’t have a choice, actually — and Trump has displayed notable restraint in going after Pelosi as he has sought to blame Democrats for the shutdown, attacking them in one tweet after another, and in other remarks.

Some people who know the President’s mind have gone as far as to suggest that he respects her. “I think the President respects Nancy Pelosi and understands that she represents voters who would never vote for him but also that if she’s serious about getting things done, he’s willing to really negotiate in good faith with her,” Mark Meadows, a Congressman considered close to the President told Politico.

Pelosi has also said she would be willing to work with Trump on infrastructure and other issues which Democrats and Republicans agree on. And though she has disagreed with her colleagues who have threatened to move to impeach Trump, she will be under pressure to deal with the issue at some stage.

“We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report,” Pelosi told ABC News on Wednesday, referring to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 Russian meddling in US polls. “We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn’t avoid impeachment for a political reason. So we’ll just have to see how it comes.”

She also said the question of whether a sitting president can be indicted, which the department of justice has ruled out, was “an open discussion”.

First Published: Jan 04, 2019 21:12 IST

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