Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat and the first woman to hold the office of speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, announced on Thursday (Nov. 17) that she will step down from the position once Republicans take over the chamber in January.

Heri from party leadership heralds the end of an era in Washington and comes after Republicans narrowly won control of the House in last week's midterm elections. In an emotional statement on the House floor,

"I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress," Pelosi said.

Democratic President Joe Biden praised Pelosi as the "most consequential" House speaker in American history and a "fierce defender of democracy."

"Because of Nancy Pelosi, the lives of millions and millions of Americans are better, even in districts represented by Republicans who voted against her Bills and too often vilify her," Biden said.

Pelosi was elected to Congress in 1987 and took office as a speaker in 2007. She is the first and only woman to occupy this important position to date. During her second term in the position, she presided over both of Trump's impeachments and was renowned for maintaining a tight hold over party ranks.

Pelosi, who is currently second in line for the presidency after Vice President Kamala Harris, stated last week that the vicious attack on her husband in the lead-up to the Nov. 8 midterm elections would have an impact on her decision. A burglar seeking the speaker went into their California home and struck Paul Pelosi, who is also 82, with a hammer. He was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

Pelosi described her journey from "homemaker to House speaker" in her address, which was greeted by a standing ovation from Democratic members, and how she first saw the Capitol when she was six years old. She hailed the midterm election's better-than-expected performance by her party as a triumph for democracy.

Hakeem Jeffries, a 52-year-old legislator from New York who is anticipated to take over as the Democratic minority leader in the upcoming House, referred to Pelosi as the "G.O.A.T." in reference to the Greatest of All Time in sports. The party is on the verge of a generational shift as a result of Pelosi stepping down from leadership and fellow octogenarians Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn, the number two and third Democrats, signaling they will do the same.

Republican members responded to Pelosi's announcement in a very different way, and many of them skipped her address.

Representative Lauren Boebert from Colorado tweeted, "The Pelosi era is over. Good riddance!"