Jan. 3, 2019 / 10:07 AM / Updated Jan. 3, 2019 at 4:53 PM
Nancy Pelosi quotes Ronald Reagan in return as House speaker
Clyde Hughes and Danielle Haynes
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-N.J., sits with her children at the start of the 116th U.S. Congress. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., holds Rep. Eric Swalwell's baby. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., sits with his daughters Eleanor and Mary Clay as they wave. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Rep Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., sits with his grandson Kevin. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
From left to right, Democratic Reps. Ann Kuster, D-N.H., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., the youngest woman elected to Congress, and Barbara Lee, D-Calif.. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds up the Speaker's gavel after being elected Speaker of the House. Pelosi is the 52nd Speaker of the House, the first to return to that position since Sam Rayburn in 1955. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Pelosi recites the Pledge of Allegiance. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Pelosi casts her vote for herself as Speaker of the House as her granddaughter jumps and yells. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer of New York (L) gives a thumbs-up next to Pelosi. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Congresswomen take a selfie togetther after the election of Pelosi as Speaker of the House. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Congresswomen celebrate Pelosi's election. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Pelosi celebrates being elected. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Representatives cheer on Pelosi. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Pelosi takes her oath as she is joined by children. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Pelosi delivers remarks after being elected Speaker. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Pelosi holds the gavel of office received from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., stands and casts her vote for Pelosi. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., greets a fellow members of Congress. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
A congressman keeps a tally of the Speaker vote. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., congratulates Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. after a ceremonial nomination for Speaker. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Members of Congress and their families bow in prayer during the invocation. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Pelosi takes the Oath of Office for Speaker of the House. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Representatives in the 116th U.S. Congress take the Oath of Office in the House Chamber. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Representatives in the 116th U.S. Congress take the Oath of Office. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Newly elected Pelosi smiles during a swearing-in photo op with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., in the Rayburn Room. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Pelosi swears in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., (R) at a mock event with family members. Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever in Congress at age 29. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Pelosi hugs Ocasio-Cortez. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Pelosi swears in Ocasio-Cortez. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Rep. Nancy Pelosi invoked former President Ronald Reagan, promising to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, shortly after being sworn in as House speaker for a second time Thursday.
"He said, 'If we ever close the door to new Americans, our leadership role in the world will soon be lost' -- Ronald Reagan," Pelosi said.
"Our common cause is to find and forge a way forward for our country. Let us stand for the people to promote liberty and justice for all as we pledge every day. And always, always keep our nation safe from threats old and new, from terrorism and cyber warfare overseas and here at home to protect and defend."
The 78-year-old Pelosi, who became the nation's first female House speaker when she took the gavel in 2007, now becomes the third person to serve in that capacity in non-consecutive terms. Only former Secretary of State Henry Clay in the 1800s and Sam Rayburn, who served on three different occasions until his death in 1961, hold that honor.
President Donald Trump offered his congratulations to Pelosi during his first appearance in the White House briefing room Thursday afternoon. He said it was a "tremendous achievement."
"Hopefully we have a lot of things we can get done together," he said, citing a common interest in an infrastructure package.
During her first speech in the new term, Pelosi praised the "transformative freshman class."
"When our new members take the oath, our Congress will be refreshed and our democracy will be strengthened by their optimism, idealism and patriotism of this transformative freshman class. Congratulations to all of you in the freshman class. Working together we will redeem the promise of the American dream for every family, advancing progress for every community," she said.
Pelosi is originally from Maryland, where Baltimore voters elected her father, Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., mayor for terms covering 12 years and five terms in the House.
Pelosi's brother, Thomas D'Alesandro III, also served as mayor of Baltimore from 1967 to 1970. Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul Pelosi, a San Francisco native, have five children and nine grandchildren.
Nancy Pelosi, who has represented California's 12th and 5th Congressional districts since 1987, was first elected to the Democratic National Committee representing California in 1976 before replacing Sala Burton in a district that covers most of San Francisco.
A Gallup poll released Thursday shows Pelosi is viewed favorably by 38 percent of Americans and unfavorably by 48 percent.
Pelosi steps into the speaker's role with some immediate crises at hand, including the federal government shutdown and the looming investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Trump's campaign and Russian collusion.
In an interview with NBC's Today show that aired Thursday, Pelosi left the door open on the impeachment of Trump, saying the matter should not be clouded by politics.
"We shouldn't be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn't avoid impeachment for a political reason," she said.
Pelosi said she was optimistic that she could negotiate with Trump, even though the president presents some challenges.
"You have to ... stipulate to some fact," Pelosi said, "It's hard to do that with the president because he resists science, evidence, data, truth. It's hard to pin the president down on the facts."
Pelosi vowed to provide checks and balances against the Trump administration instead of the "rubber stamp" of his first two years in office.
"He was used to serving with a Republican Congress, House and Senate that was a rubber stamp to him. That won't be the case," Pelosi told USA Today on Thursday. "Oversight of government by the Congress is our responsibility."
Internally, Pelosi faces a challenge from the left flank of the Democratic Party that earlier threatened her return as speaker.
Congressional newcomers, like New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, at age 29 the youngest woman elected to Congress, have said they plan to oppose Pelosi on an overhaul of House rules created to rein in deficit spending.
To win over the votes she needed to become speaker, Pelosi cut a deal with her critics that term-limited her tenure to 2022, or to win over a two-thirds vote in the caucus rather than a simple majority.
"This is legacy-building time," Jennifer Lawless, an expert on women in politics at the University of Virginia told The New York Times about Pelosi. "If she can be the person who is remembered for holding Trump accountable, or not letting him put forward facts that are not facts, if she can be the one who just calmly sits there and hold his feet to the fire, in a lot of ways, that's just as important as anything else she does."