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Democrats’ Closed-Door Speaker Vote Set for Wednesday

While just three days away from an internal caucus vote on her bid for the Speaker of the House for the 116th Congress, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) still has some work to do. Sixteen Democrats signed onto a letter last week opposing Pelosi for House Speaker arguing that Democrats’ November success in winning the House majority was a result of promises made to change the status quo. Pelosi has served as the chamber’s Democratic leader for 15 years. The letter was led by Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.). The other signers of the letter are Reps. Tim Ryan (Ohio), Seth Moulton (Mass.), Linda Sánchez (Calif.), Ed Perlmutter (Colo.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Filemon Vela (Texas), Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Bill Foster (Ill.), Brian Higgins (N.Y.) Stephen Lynch (Mass.) and incoming freshmen Jeff Van Drew (N.J.), Joe Cunningham (S.C.), Max Rose (N.Y.), Ben McAdams (Utah), and Anthony Brindisi (N.Y.). Of these sixteen signers, one of them, Rep. Brian Higgins (N.Y.), has since announced his support for Pelosi after striking a deal to lead the effort in the House on a Medicare buy-in proposal. Another signer, Anthony Brindisi (N.Y.), has not yet been declared the winner in his congressional district race.

Pelosi is also still trying to strike a deal with nine Democratic members of the Problem Solvers Caucus. Reps. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Tom Suozzi (N.Y.), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.), Stephanie Murphy (Fla.), Vicente González (Texas) and Darren Soto (Fla.) are withholding their votes for Speaker unless the candidate agrees to reform House rules. The Problem Solvers are pushing for changes, including a supermajority vote requirement to pass legislation under a closed rule and fast-track consideration of any legislation co-sponsored by at least two-thirds of the chamber.

Pelosi otherwise has widespread support within her caucus and is expected to win the internal caucus vote for her nomination. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) had considered running for Speaker but announced last week that she would instead endorse Pelosi, who offered to restore the House Administration Subcommittee on Elections and make Fudge chairman. No other dissenters have announced plans to challenge Pelosi for the leadership position.

Pelosi has pledged to expand the party’s leadership team and create a new position within the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) should she hold the Speaker’s gavel next Congress. The DPCC is the Democrat’s messaging office and currently consists of three co-chairs elected by the Democratic caucus. Pelosi’s proposal would add an additional spot to the office. The Democratic internal caucus votes are scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 28 and Pelosi will only need a simple majority to become the party’s nominee for Speaker during the closed-door vote. She will need a majority of the entire House – 218 votes – when a floor vote is held in early January. Currently the incoming Democratic majority will consist of either 233 or 234 members depending on the outcome of the Brindisi race. That means Pelosi can only afford to lose the support of 15 or 16 members of the full House.

In related leadership election news, Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) has dropped her bid for Democratic Whip. Instead, DeGette will set her sights on chairing one of the Energy and Commerce Subcomittees. Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.) has served as Whip and the Democrats’ number three leader since 2006.

November 26, 2018: | Page 1 Page 2 Page 3



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