Incoming House Democrat snubs Pelosi, wants ‘new leadership’

Arturo Kim
November 29, 2018

The group was formed several years ago by the centrist organization No Labels, in part to blunt the power of ultraconservative Republicans who have had an outsized influence on their leaders during their years in the majority. At a debate over the summer, she declared she would not back the California Democrat as speaker.

Pelosi entered the closed-door caucus election in an unusual position - running unopposed for the nomination despite the clamor by some Democrats for new leadership.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., joined by from left, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., and Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio., speaks to media at Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, to announce her nomination by House Democrats to lead them in the new Congress.

"We had two outstanding people run to be caucus chair, and it was a very close vote, and I think Hakeem will rise to the challenge", Representative Cheri Bustos of IL said.

But, as the 32 votes against Pelosi indicate, her work isn't done.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California has been chosen by her party to be speaker of the House come January.

On Wednesday, Ms Pelosi, 78, won with a simple majority in a secret ballot by House Democrats. In recent years a growing number of Democrats have pushed behind the scenes for a younger, more diverse House leadership team.

But she'll need 218 votes in January, half the full 435-seat House, which is harder, if all Republicans vote against her, as is likely - though she could win with fewer votes if some lawmakers are absent or vote present. Only four of them voted against her last time on the House floor, her allies were quick to point out.

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The United States is the only major country in the world that doesn't guarantee healthcare as a right, yet we pay far more per person and leave millions without coverage. "How moving it was", Pelosi told reporters as her colleagues held their vote.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. -elect Ayanna Pressley said she's backing Pelosi in her bid to reclaim the title when Congress reconvenes in January.

Democrats have gained at least 38 House seats, with outcomes unclear in a couple of races.

Representative Gerry Connolly said Pelosi's opponents lacked a game plan for vanquishing her. By the end, she had promised that his two top legislative priorities - a bill to allow people older than 50 to buy in to Medicare and a $1 trillion infrastructure measure - would be top agenda items in the next Congress. "But I expect to have a powerful vote as we go forward", she said today.

That particular group was able to get there with her in terms of negotiations.

"We're in pretty good shape" for January, she said.

Among those set to vouch for Pelosi in her formal nomination on Wednesday were Rep. Joe Kennedy III of MA, the 38-year-old grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, who was to formally nominate her, and a dozen others spanning the ideological and age spectrum, including Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, the 78-year-old civil rights icon, and Rep. -elect Katie Hill of California, 31, a political neophyte and unabashed progressive who ran advocating an assault weapons ban and a federal "Medicare for all" initiative. The newly-elected freshman said she'll be voting yes.

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