By Erica Werner
Nancy Pelosi won her biggest victory in her first 100 days as speaker of the House of Representatives by making peace among her own Democrats. Mollifying moderates and staving off liberal defections, she narrowly wrung passage of legislation setting a troop withdrawal deadline from
Key tests lie ahead when House members return from their April recess in the coming week.
But even opponents concede that Pelosi's kept her agenda, and herself, firmly in the spotlight since her history-making swearing-in Jan. 4.
'I have a great serenity about it because I understand why people have to do what they have to do, both Democrats and Republicans,' Pelosi told The Associated Press in an interview as she prepared to mark the 100-day milestone Saturday. 'And the challenge is a positive challenge.'
Democrats noted the 100-day mark in their weekly radio address Saturday. 'Our work is not done,' said Rep. Rahm Emanuel of
Public approval of Pelosi has waned slightly since her initial honeymoon, according to an AP-Ipsos poll conducted April 2-4. Overall, 46 percent said they approved of how Pelosi was handling her job, compared with 51 percent in mid-January, while 44 percent disapproved, compared with 35 percent in mid-January.
There have been controversies. A recent trip to
Other disputes have served to show off Pelosi's backbone. When Vice President Dick Cheney argued that Democrats' war approach would 'validate the al-Qaida strategy,' she unleashed a furious retort. The comment was 'beneath the dignity of the debate we're engaged in,' Pelosi said.
'She is not easily intimidated, and I think that when you deal with the White House and Karl Rove's people you cannot be a shrinking violet,' said
Pelosi, a liberal Democrat from
That happened with the legislation to pull combat troops from
Her more liberal allies complained the final product did not go far enough because it continued to fund the wars in
Many liberals said they recognize the political realities Pelosi confronts as she aims to keep Democrats in power in the Congress. Key victories the party won in November were in more conservative districts, and Pelosi must take care to protect those moderate incumbents.
'My guess is that she's far more pacifist than the majority of our caucus, but I think she also understands that she's got to pass legislation,' said Rep. Pete Stark, a California Democrat.
Pelosi's ability to do just that will be tested as she and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid head toward confrontation with the White House over the
Other upcoming priorities for House action include lobbying, ethics and election reform bills and legislation to fund more teachers and simplify tax-paying. Pelosi hopes to have a global warming bill ready before the 4th of July.
Some of the thorniest issues confronting Congress are not scheduled for quick action, including immigration reform and health care changes. It is in part a recognition that Pelosi is aiming to set goals she can deliver.
'I want to demonstrate that Democrats are ready to lead,' she said.