Trump en­dorses Pelosi as speaker

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI AND SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

As­cen­dant House Democrats said they will avoid a nasty lead­er­ship fight and will keep in place the team that led them to win con­trol in the midterm elec­tions. Repub­li­cans, mean­while, were brac­ing for an ugly re­build be­gin­ning when the party votes on a new crop of lead­ers.

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi of Cal­i­for­nia said she is con­fi­dent that her col­leagues will elect her to be speaker of the Demo­crat-con­trolled House in Jan­uary. She brushed aside dozens of law­mak­ers who ex­pressed am­biva­lence or even out­right op­po­si­tion to her dur­ing the cam­paign.

The No. 2 and No. 3 Democrats, Reps. Steny H. Hoyer of Mary­land and James E. Cly­burn of South Carolina, also said they will run for their posts again.

Things are much more in flux in the Repub­li­can ranks.

With Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wis­con­sin re­tir­ing, two law­mak­ers have an­nounced bids to suc­ceed him as the Repub­li­can floor leader.

Rep. Jim Jor­dan of Ohio, a con­ser­va­tive fire­brand, said he will run against Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Cal­i­for­nia, Mr. Ryan’s top lieu­tenant.

The race pits two of Pres­i­dent Trump’s top back­ers against each other.

“We need to lay the ground­work to re­gain the ma­jor­ity so that we can con­tinue work­ing along­side Pres­i­dent Trump to ful­fill our prom­ise to fun­da­men­tally change Wash­ing­ton,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I helped build a ma­jor­ity from a deeper hole than this, and I have what it takes to do it again.”

But Mr. Jor­dan, co-founder of the con­ser­va­tive House Free­dom Cau­cus, said the Repub­li­cans’ prob­lem is fail­ing to live up to cam­paign prom­ises.

“Have we re­placed Oba­macare yet? Have we se­cured the bor­der yet? Have we re­formed wel­fare yet? No,” he told The Hill.

The six-term con­gress­man has a thin leg­isla­tive record. He has made his mark more in block­ing bills and cre­at­ing headaches for Repub­li­can lead­ers who he thought were strik­ing bad deals with Democrats.

For­mer House Speaker John A. Boehner, a fel­low Ohio Repub­li­can, once la­beled Mr. Jor­dan a “leg­isla­tive ter­ror­ist.”

That ap­proach, how­ever, has en­deared Mr. Jor­dan to a num­ber of con­ser­va­tive lobby groups, which an­nounced sup­port for his speaker’s bid.

“We want to be very clear that the po­si­tion of our ac­tivists is that if the def­i­ni­tion of in­san­ity is do­ing the same thing over and over again and ex­pect­ing a dif­fer­ent re­sult, then a vote for Kevin McCarthy for mi­nor­ity leader is a vote for in­san­ity,” said Noah Wall, of Free­domWorks.

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana in­di­cated that he plans to run for mi­nor­ity whip, the No. 2 Repub­li­can po­si­tion in the next Congress, by­pass­ing a shot to bat­tle with Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Jor­dan.

Mean­while, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wy­oming, daugh­ter of for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney, an­nounced that she plans to run for House Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence chair, putting her on a crash course with Rep. Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers of Wash­ing­ton state, who cur­rently holds the job.

Mr. Trump has yet to pick sides in the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship bat­tles but did give an un­ex­pected shoutout to Mrs. Pelosi. He said on Twit­ter that she “de­serves to be cho­sen speaker of the House by Democrats.”

Mrs. Pelosi dis­tanced her­self from the pres­i­dent’s re­marks dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on Capi­tol Hill.

“I don’t think any­body de­serves any­thing,” she said be­fore briefly mak­ing her case for the top job. “I think I’m the best per­son to go for­ward, to unify, to ne­go­ti­ate.”

She has been leader of the House Democrats since 2002. Since then, she has suf­fered in the mi­nor­ity, cap­tured the ma­jor­ity in the 2006 elec­tions, lost the ma­jor­ity in 2010 and suf­fered an­other eight years in the mi­nor­ity.

The 78-year-old has been joined for most of that time by Mr. Hoyer, 79, and Mr. Cly­burn, 78, mark­ing a stun­ning con­sis­tency de­spite ma­jor ups and downs.

Capi­tol Hill ob­servers have long pre­dicted a dust-up be­tween the two men, but Mr. Cly­burn said that he is con­tent to seek the third job: ma­jor­ity whip.

That is likely to be a dis­ap­point­ment to the Con­gres­sional Black Cau­cus, whose chair­man re­port­edly called this week for at least one of the top two lead­ers to be black. Mr. Cly­burn is black, but nei­ther Mrs. Pelosi nor Mr. Hoyer is.

Rep. Diana DeGette, Colorado Demo­crat and the party’s chief deputy whip, an­nounced that she will make a run for ma­jor­ity whip, chal­leng­ing Mr. Cly­burn.

She said the cau­cus needs to pro­mote women to the lead­er­ship team.

“As we add even more women to our ranks in Congress — largely be­cause of Demo­cratic can­di­dates — our cau­cus should re­flect this strength, in­clud­ing at the lead­er­ship ta­ble,” she said.

Reps. Ben Ray Lu­jan of New Mex­ico, Cheri Bus­tos of Illi­nois and David N. Ci­cilline of Rhode Is­land have in­di­cated their in­ten­tions to run for as­sis­tant Demo­cratic leader.

Democrats will also have to find a re­place­ment for Rep. Joseph Crow­ley of New York, chair­man of the House Demo­cratic Cau­cus, who lost in a June pri­mary to Rep.elect Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez.

Can­di­dates to re­place Mr. Crow­ley in­clude Rep. Linda T. Sanchez of Cal­i­for­nia, the cau­cus’ vice chair­woman, and Rep. Bar­bara Lee of Cal­i­for­nia.

Lead­ers of the Con­gres­sional Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus told re­porters in a con­fer­ence call that they weren’t ready to weigh in on the lead­er­ship races. They said they were in­ter­ested in hav­ing lib­er­als in the up­per ech­e­lons and mak­ing sure their elec­toral suc­cesses trans­late into more leg­isla­tive sway in the 116th Congress.

“We want to make sure lead­er­ship is mov­ing pro­gres­sive ideas for­ward,” said Rep. Mark Po­can of Wis­con­sin, co-chair of the group.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, said she’s con­fi­dent she will win enough sup­port to be elected speaker.

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