House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi's decision to serve another term in that post will probably have a big influence on efforts by President Barack Obama and Congress to reach an agreement to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.
Pelosi announced Wednesday she'll continue to lead her party in the House despite the Democrats' failure to win back the majority it lost in 2010. "We have work to do," she said. "It isn't about the gavel, although we'd like to have it."
Obama and congressional leaders of both parties have sounded conciliatory following his re-election last week, saying they'll work together toward a deficit-trimming budget deal to ward off automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts set to take effect in January.
But Obama is also insisting that any deal include higher taxes on the wealthy. Republicans oppose increases in tax rates and say any grand compromise must include spending cuts in "entitlement" benefit programs.
Pelosi has been one of the biggest defenders of entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. And she gave no ground Wednesday.
While saying "everything is on the table" in talks that Obama will convene on Friday, Pelosi also said she'll continue to resist efforts to pare back either program. "Any adjustments we make in them would be to make them stronger," she said.
If Pelosi, 72, hadn't sought the Democratic leadership post again, it probably would have gone to either Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland or Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina.
She said she didn't want to lose her place at the negotiating table with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Republican House Speaker John Boehner. "The thought of four men at that table" wouldn't exactly square with her longtime goal to "empower women in the workplace," she suggested.
Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum