Nancy Pelosi has been chosen by House Democrats to lead them in the new US Congress, but she still faces a showdown vote for House speaker when politicians convene in January.
Ms Pelosi ran unopposed as the nominee for speaker in a closed-door Democratic caucus election Wednesday despite unrest from those clamouring for new leadership.
The California Democrat faces a tougher race in January, when she will need 218 votes, the majority of the full House, to be elected speaker.
Ms Pelosi was the first woman to be speaker when Democrats had the House majority from 2007 to 2011.
It is rare to reclaim that post after losing it.
The house speaker is second in line to the presidency after the vice-president.