Pelosi pledges to 'reach across the aisle'

Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader, Photo Date: 4/21/2016
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WASHINGTON (AP) — 6 a.m.

Nancy Pelosi is hours away from taking back the gavel as House speaker when the new Congress convenes and Democrats assume control.

The California Democrat is expected to be elected House speaker Thursday afternoon.

In remarks prepared for her opening speech, Pelosi is giving a nod to the new era of divided government with a pledge to "reach across the aisle in this chamber and across the divisions in this great nation."

Pelosi says the floor of the House must be "America's Town Hall" and says in her prepared remarks it's a place where people will see debates and where their voices will be heard and affect lawmakers' decisions.

She says Democratic priorities include lowering health care costs, investing in green infrastructure and "restoring integrity" to government.

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12:40 a.m.

Nancy Pelosi is poised to be elected as House speaker with the first vote of the new Democratic majority.

The California Democrat is the only woman who has held the office and will join the few elected officials who returned to it. The last time a speaker regained the gavel was more than a half-century ago.

While Pelosi says she knew this moment would arrive, it wasn't guaranteed. Others had their doubts — or actively worked against her.

She has spent her political career being underestimated, only to prove the naysayers wrong. In this case, it was by winning back the Democratic majority and amassing the votes for the speaker's job.

Pelosi remains a highly polarizing figure, vilified by Republicans as a San Francisco liberal and caricature of big government.