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Nancy Pelosi (born March 26, 1940) is the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives; that is, the leader of the Democratic Party in that body. She is the first woman to lead a major political party in the United States Congress. She has represented California's Eighth Congressional District (map), taking in most of San Francisco, since 1987.
Pelosi attended Trinity College (now Trinity University) in Washington, DC, where she met her future husband, Paul Pelosi . When the couple married, they moved to his hometown of San Francisco, where his brother served on the city's Board of Supervisors. Once the youngest of their five children had entered school, Nancy Pelosi became involved in Democratic Party politics in the city, working her way up to party chairwoman for Northern California, and joining forces with one of the leaders of California Democratic Party politics, San Francisco Representative Phillip Burton .
When Burton died in 1983, his wife Sala won a special election to complete his term. When she became ill with cancer, she suggested that Pelosi run for her seat. After Sala Burton died, Pelosi won in a special election to succeed her, was elected to a full term in 1988, and has won every election since then. San Francisco is so heavily Democratic that she has never faced a difficult contest. After the Tiananmen protests of 1989, Pelosi became a supporter of the Chinese democracy movement and vocal critic of the government of the People's Republic of China and sponsored the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992.
In the House, she served on the Appropriations and Intelligence Committees, and spent long hours raising funds for other members. In 2001, she was elected to the position of minority whip. Since then, she has campaigned for candidates in 30 states and in 90 Congressional districts, garnering support for her further climb to the top.
In 2002, after Dick Gephardt resigned as minority leader to seek the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential election, Pelosi was elected minority leader. Soon after Pelosi assumed her new post, she endorsed Gephardt's presidential bid. In the first real test of her position as minority leader, Pelosi was outmaneuvered by Republican leaders during a vote on November 22, 2003 to overhaul Medicare, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act.
At 2:58am, the bill failed, 211-222, with only one Democrat voting Yea. However, Republicans managed to give the bill additional life by moving a new question "On Agreeing to the Conference Report." Representatives were then coaxed by Republican leaders and President George W. Bush into changing their votes, and at 5:51am the bill passed 220-215, including fifteen Democrats changing their votes from Nay to Yea.
Pelosi is characterized as part of the party's liberal wing; certainly, representing a district in famously liberal San Francisco complements this impression. Indeed, Republicans in some areas of the country use the prospect of a "San Francisco liberal" becoming Speaker as a campaign tool. In San Francisco, however, Pelosi is sometimes seen as more moderate than liberal.
- "America must be a light to the world, not just a missile." (response to the State of the Union Address, January 20, 2004)
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