U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pledged on Thursday her support for lowering the federal elections voting age from 18 to 16.
The top Democrat told reporters during her weekly news conference at the Capitol that she has long supported changing the age to allow high school students the opportunity to vote.
"I, myself, personally, I'm not speaking for my caucus, I myself have always been for lowering the voting age to 16," Pelosi said. "I think it's really important to capture the kids when they're in high school, when they're interested in all of this when they're learning about government, to be able to vote."
"But my view is that I would welcome that but I've been in that position for a long time," she added.
What's the background?
Last week, Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) introduced legislation to lower the federal election voting age to 16.
The freshman congresswoman introduced the measure as an amendment to the Democrat-backed H.R. 1, a bill aimed at expanding voter rights and reforming campaign finance.
"From gun violence to climate change, our young people are organizing, mobilizing and calling us to action," Pressley said on the House floor, the Washington Examiner reported. "They are at the forefront of social and legislative movement and have earned inclusion in our Democracy."
The amendment was defeated in the House, 305-126.
What did opponents say?
Some Republicans argued that lowering the voting isn't something that should be done lightly.
"I'm of the opinion that we shouldn't arbitrarily lower the voting age just because right now, I believe Democrats think they'll gain more votes," Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) said during a debate over the proposal, according to the Examiner. "I believe it will institutionalize a Democrat majority here in this House of Representatives."
"I think this is foolish," Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) said on the House floor.
Pelosi said the proposal could still be a point of debate.
"That – that is not necessary – you know, in other words, some of the priorities in this bill are about transparency and openness and accessibility and the rest, that's a subject of debate," Pelosi said Thursday. "But my view is that I would welcome that."