Reck­on­ing for Pelosi: Dems vote for leader

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi faced a reck­on­ing from fel­low House Democrats on yes­ter­day as frus­trated law­mak­ers tried to oust her from the lead­er­ship post she’s held for over a decade. The 76-year-old Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, known as a mas­ter vote counter, was ex­pected to beat back the chal­lenge from Ohio Rep Tim Ryan as Democrats met be­hind closed doors.

But she was forced to prom­ise changes to the cau­cus to an­swer com­plaints from law­mak­ers fed up with be­ing shut out of the up­per ranks of lead­er­ship, es­pe­cially in the wake of a dev­as­tat­ing elec­tion that in­stalled a GOP monopoly over Congress and the White House. A half-dozen Democrats were slated to deliver tes­ti­mo­ni­als to Pelosi in nom­i­nat­ing speeches, but the dis­en­chant­ment was ev­i­dent.

“I think Tim Ryan would be a great leader. He’s a new gen­er­a­tion and I think he would ap­peal to a lot of mil­len­ni­als and young peo­ple in this coun­try,” Rep Steve Lynch, D-Mass., said as he headed into the ses­sion. “He brings a cer­tain ex­cite­ment and also a bit of com­mon sense from Youngstown, Ohio.” “Our base is work­ing peo­ple and we’ve got to talk about that. We’ve got to tell work­ing peo­ple in this coun­try that we care about them,” Lynch said.

Lead­er­ship elec­tions were orig­i­nally sched­uled to be held be­fore Thanks­giv­ing but were de­layed to give Democrats more time to dis­cuss and process the elec­tion re­sults and con­sider a path for­ward. Many are dis­cour­aged af­ter los­ing the White House and mak­ing smaller than ex­pected gains in both cham­bers of Congress.

“I be­lieve we must do more than sim­ply pa­per over the cracks,” said Rep. Ruben Gal­lego of Ari­zona, one of a hand­ful of House Democrats to en­dorse Ryan. “We can’t just say the right things - we must take con­crete steps to move our party in the right di­rec­tion.” The 76-year-old Pelosi has been promis­ing some changes to as­suage con­cerns in her cau­cus, in­clud­ing adding a mem­ber of the fresh­men class to her lead­er­ship team. But her pro­pos­als do lit­tle to en­sure new blood at the very top or change the se­nior­ity sys­tem that has key com­mit­tees led by law­mak­ers in their 80s at a mo­ment when the party needs to be de­fend­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health care law and other ini­tia­tives.

None­the­less Pelosi pro­jected con­fi­dence head­ing into the vote. Known for her vote-count­ing skills, the Cal­i­for­nian as­serted she had sup­port of two-thirds of Democrats locked up. “Leader Pelosi is hon­ored to re­ceive the over­whelm­ing sup­port of her col­leagues,” said spokesman Drew Ham­mill. “That so many mem­bers are so en­thu­si­as­tic and eager to take ac­tive roles in the cau­cus is mu­sic to her ears.”

Other top lead­er­ship posts are un­con­tested, with Steny Hoyer of Mary­land ex­pected to stay in the No. 2 job of whip, and Jim Cly­burn of South Carolina in the No. 3 po­si­tion of as­sis­tant leader. The po­si­tion of con­fer­ence chair­man is termlim­ited, and Xavier Be­cerra of Cal­i­for­nia is ex­pected to be re­placed by Joe Crow­ley of New York. There is a con­test for the po­si­tion of con­fer­ence vice chair be­tween two Cal­i­for­nia Democrats, Linda Sanchez and Bar­bara Lee. Ei­ther would be­come the first mi­nor­ity woman in lead­er­ship.

On the eve of the House lead­er­ship elec­tions, 85-year-old Rep. San­der Levin, the top Demo­crat on the House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee, said he will not seek re-elec­tion to the panel post, clear­ing the way for a younger law­maker to move into the spot on the pow­er­ful com­mit­tee. Be­cerra and Rep. Richard Neal of Mas­sachusetts told House Democrats they are in­ter­ested in the po­si­tion. Repub­li­cans are on track to hold at least 240 seats in the House next year. Democrats, who had high hopes of sig­nif­i­cant gains in the elec­tion, picked up just six seats on Elec­tion Day ear­lier this month and re­main in the mi­nor­ity with 194 seats. — AP

HA­VANA: Peo­ple line the Male­con sea­side boule­vard as they watch the mo­tor­cade trans­port­ing the re­mains of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. — AP

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