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WASHINGTON (AP) _ House Democrats on Thursday made Rep. Nancy Pelosi the first woman ever to head a political party's caucus in Congress.

In choosing Pelosi on a 177-29 vote, Democrats tasked the veteran California congresswoman with reviving a party stunned by election setbacks and facing a political landscape in which the White House and both houses of Congress are controlled by Republicans.

Democrats settled on the 62-year-old liberal to succeed Dick Gephardt of Missouri, who ended his eight years as party leader after an election where Republicans cemented their control over the House and won back the majority in the Senate.

Twenty-nine Democrats voted for Rep. Harold Ford of Tennessee, who had decided last Friday to challenge Pelosi for the job. Rep. Nancy Kaptur, an Ohio Democrat who got into the race only this week, pulled out before the vote.

Pelosi's selection came a day after Republicans picked a solidly conservative leadership team, with Sen. Trent Lott and House Speaker Dennis Hastert remaining at the helm, intent on advancing President Bush's agenda of lower taxes and increased attention to national security.