Pelosi vows to open roles to ju­nior Dems

House leader tack­les crit­i­cism from Ohio chal­lenger

Baltimore Sun - - NATION - By An­drew Tay­lor

WASH­ING­TON — Nancy Pelosi is re­spond­ing to a chal­lenge to her po­si­tion as top House Demo­crat by propos­ing to give more in­flu­ence to ju­nior law­mak­ers atop con­gres­sional com­mit­tees and within her lead­er­ship team.

Pelosi, the cham­ber’s Demo­cratic leader since 2002, is be­ing chal­lenged by Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan in the aftermath of elec­tions that were dis­ap­point­ing for Democrats who ex­pected Hil­lary Clin­ton to be elected pres­i­dent and their party to make siz­able gains in the House.

Pelosi ap­pears to be ad­dress­ing wide­spread un- ease among more ju­nior law­mak­ers who say that op­por­tu­ni­ties to ad­vance and in­flu­ence the party’s course are lack­ing so long as the same se­nior Democrats re­main in charge.

Ryan says he is bet­ter able to ap­peal to Rust Belt and ru­ral ar­eas where Democrats used to per­form bet­ter. Pelosi points to her suc­cess­ful lead­er­ship in the mid-2000s that led the party into the ma­jor­ity for four years.

Pelosi’s core lead­er­ship team has been in place for a decade and oc­to­ge­nar­i­ans com­mand the top Demo­cratic posts of sev­eral pow­er­ful com­mit­tees, in­clud­ing the Ju­di­ciary panel and the Ways and Means Com­mit­tee, which has sweep- ing ju­ris­dic­tion over taxes, trade, health care and So­cial Se­cu­rity.

Rep. Seth Moul­ton, DMass., 38, said re­cently there is “a lot” of frus­tra­tion among younger Democrats that there are so few paths for ad­vance­ment in the House.

“Young peo­ple are vot­ing for Democrats,” Moul­ton said. “Peo­ple of color are vot­ing for Democrats. We’re the party of the fu­ture, but it doesn’t look like that.”

Pelosi is the fa­vorite to de­feat Ryan and hold onto her post as mi­nor­ity leader. But she’s re­spond­ing to the un­ease among j unior Democrats by propos­ing that less se­nior law­mak­ers be given the No. 2 Demo- Cal­i­for­nia Rep. Nancy Pelosi, 76, re­mains the fa­vorite to de­feat Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, 43, and re­tain her post as mi­nor­ity leader. Pelosi has the back­ing of top party fig­ures. cratic spots on com­mit­tees. She would also cre­ate three lead­er­ship po­si­tions for Democrats who have served fewer than 10 years, and des­ig­nate the No. 3 lead­er­ship post for a law­maker who has served fewer than three terms.

“Mak­ing this fight re­quires all hands on deck,” Pelosi wrote to fel­low Democrats.

Pelosi, 76, also has the back­ing of top party fig­ures — start­ing with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

“She com­bines strong, pro­gres­sive val­ues with just ex­tra­or­di­nary po­lit­i­cal skill,” Obama said Sun­day. “And she does stuff that’s tough, not just stuff that’s easy.”

On Tues­day, AFL-CIO Pres­i­dent Richard Trumpka weighed in on Twit­ter. “Our agenda is her agenda and that’s why we’re with her to be the Demo­cratic leader,” Trumpka wrote.

Ryan, 43, had ear­lier is­sued sim­i­lar pro­pos­als de­signed to give a greater role to ju­nior Democrats. And he says the party has to ex­pand beyond its coastal and ur­ban strongholds.

“I’m pulling the fire alarm be­cause the house is burn­ing down, and we bet­ter get our act to­gether or we’re go­ing to cease be­ing a na­tional party,” Ryan said Mon­day on the Fox Busi­ness Net­work. “We’re go­ing to be a re­gional party that fails to get into the ma­jor­ity and fails to do things on be­half of those work­ing class peo­ple that were the back­bone of the Demo­cratic Party for so long.”

AN­DREW HARNIK/AP

PAUL SANCYA/AP

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