Who is Nancy Pelosi?


The ongoing US government shutdown has pitted Donald Trump against a new rival: Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives.

The president has found himself hamstrung by a stubborn Democratic Congress that has remained steadfast in its assertion that no compromises will be made to fund his controversial US-Mexico border wall.

Pelosi has been at loggerheads with Trump, a fight that has seen the balance of public opinion shift away from the president.

So has Trump met his match?

Who is Nancy Pelosi?

Pelosi is a 78-year-old Baltimore-born politician who entered politics as a congressional representative for California’s 5th District in 1987, a position she still holds today.

She served as Speaker of the US House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011 under Barack Obama, becoming the first woman to hold the role – and the highest-ranking elected woman – in the nation’s history.

What does she do now?

The midterm elections in November saw the Democratic party retake control of the House of Representatives, after losing it to the Republicans in 2011, and Pelosi was again sworn in as speaker on 3 January this year.

But rather than helping pass legislation put forward by Obama, her job this time is – in her own words – “restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration”. This may involve blocking bills her party doesn’t agree with.

The Guardian describes her as having been “implacable” in denying Trump $5.7bn, which he claims is necessary to build his proposed border wall, causing the government to enter a shutdown that has seen hundreds of thousands of federal employees go without pay.

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Could Pelosi outmanoeuvre Trump?

The shutdown has birthed what The Atlantic calls a “vengeful” rivalry between the pair. “The two most powerful elected leaders in the country are locked in a duel of personal vengeance, making the possibility of good-faith negotiations to end the impasse even more unlikely,” the magazine adds.

Last week, Pelosi wrote a letter to the 72-year-old president stating that due to the ongoing shutdown there was a security concern that would render him unable to present the State of the Union address. In response, Trump issued a letter to Pelosi stating that he would be cancelling her previously undisclosed trip to Afghanistan and Brussels on official business.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Pelosi “appears to have gotten the better of the relationship” by keeping Democrats “united” amid the shutdown.

Furthermore, after touting himself as a great “deal-maker” during his presidential campaign in 2016, Trump has faced a backlash from his supporter base over his handling of the shutdown. The majority of Americans believe he bears more responsibility for the deadlock than any other party involved, CNN reports.

The Sydney Morning Herald says that Pelosi has been “preparing for this fight for decades”, while Trump “landed in the White House almost by accident, never planned for his presidency, and still avoids the hard work of absorbing briefings and formulating policies”.

“She knows how to do her job,” the site adds. “Him, not so much. It’s not a fair fight.”



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