By Harrison Arubu
The 117th U.S. Congress took office on Sunday with Nancy Pelosi securing re-election as Speaker of the House of Representatives with a narrow voting margin.
Pelosi, 80, retained the position after garnering 216 votes to beat her rival, Kevin McCarthy of the Republican Party, who secured 209 votes.
Five fellow Democrats chose not to support Pelosi. While two voted for lawmakers who were not running, three others simply voted “present”, according to ABC news.
This will be the California lawmaker’s 4th term (non-consecutive) as speaker, and she remains the only woman to have ever held the office.
The Democratic Party lost 11 seats in the Nov. 3 elections thus narrowing its majority in the House to 222-212.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence swore in members of the new Senate, whose control has not been determined due to two pending run-off elections in Georgia.
The Republicans are currently leading with 50-48 seats, and should the Democrats win the two vacant seats on Tuesday, the Vice President, who is the chairman of the senate, becomes a tie-breaking voter.
On Wednesday, the two chambers will hold a joint session to certify the election of President-elect Joe Biden before his inauguration on Jan. 20.
It promises to be the first major test of the new Congress where 11 Republican senators, led by Ted Cruz (Texas), have vowed to vote against Biden’s victory in swing states disputed by Trump.
But in a statement on Sunday, a bipartisan group of 10 senators said the 2020 election was over, and urged their colleagues to certify Biden’s election.