It appears the previous House Democratic leadership will return in tact when Congress convenes on January 3rd, but Minority Leader and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) still has a major hurdle to overcome after coming through yesterday’s Democratic Conference meeting as the party nominee for Speaker. A total of 32 members voted “no” on the secret ballot slate and three present members did not vote even though Ms. Pelosi was the only name on the ballot.
The “no” option was added to the ballot likely to give many members the ability to oppose Pelosi since some committed to doing so on the campaign trail. The members were allowed to take a picture of their ballot and can release it publicly. The idea of presenting this option is to give those who needed to oppose Pelosi the opportunity of doing so, so they can proceed to vote for her on the opening day of session when it will really count.
To be elected Speaker, a candidate must obtain a majority of 218 votes. Members vote publicly when they answer the first roll call. Therefore, the 35 members not supporting Pelosi – the 36th unrecorded vote belongs to Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) who is currently hospitalized – will be critical to the final vote early next year. The fact that Ms. Pelosi only received 203 votes from her Conference suggests that she is not yet home free in the Speakers’ contest come January 3rd.
Former Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) will return to his previous position, as will Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) as the Majority Whip. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) was unopposed for the position of Assistant Majority Leader. New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) was elected Conference Chairman, defeating Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) by just a ten-vote margin. The remaining leadership positions, including Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair, will be decided in further conference voting today.
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