Pelosi wins over another vote in bid for House speaker
Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch, who had opposed Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s bid for House speaker, reversed course and announced on Friday that he will support her candidacy.
It was the latest boost to Pelosi’s bid to regain the speaker’s gavel after eight years in the minority and the latest blow to the small band of Democrats who are threatening to withhold their votes to force a shake-up in the party’s top ranks.
Lynch of Massachusetts had signed a letter last month calling for “new leadership” at the top of the party, joining 15 colleagues. But on Friday he said Pelosi, D-Calif., had his “full support” following “several days of productive conversations and growing clarity on the future direction and priorities of the Democratic House.”
Lynch’s reversal puts Pelosi closer to securing the votes she needs to win in a scheduled Jan. 3 election, though she still remains several votes short.
A Washington Post tally counts 22 Democrats who are now openly opposed to her, with another 18 dodging questions about their positions. She can afford to lose up to 17 Democratic votes if all members vote for an individual.
But Pelosi has doggedly worked to win over her critics. Last month, Pelosi secured the support of Rep. Marcia Fudge, DOhio, who was considering a run against her, and of Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., who signed the letter with Lynch.
One incoming freshman, Rep.-elect Haley Stevens, D-Mich., also said this week she planned to vote for Pelosi next month after saying she wanted new leadership during her campaign and voting against Pelosi last month in a party nominating vote.
“I was clear going into that vote with her and the rest of the leadership about where I would be,” she told the Oakland Press, a local paper in Michigan. “I was also clear with her that I wouldn’t be voting against her on the House floor in January.”
A larger group of Democrats are now negotiating with the 78-year-old Pelosi – who has been the top House Democrat for nearly 16 years – in hopes of getting younger members a greater role in the party leadership. One of them, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, DColo., said last week that he is seeking to secure “some kind of transition” in an interview.
One point of negotiation could surround implementing term limits on Democratic committee chairmen for the first time. While Republicans limit their committee chairs to three terms, Democrats have adhered to a seniority-based system, and many minority lawmakers credit that with allowing them to rise up the ranks.
But it has also led to frustrations among younger members who are faced with spending decades before they reach the upper echelons of legislative influence.
Pelosi, who has previously considered and rejected moving away from the seniority system, said Thursday that she was “sympathetic” to younger members’ concerns but declined to endorse it outright.
“I say that’s a debate for the caucus to have, and we will have that,” she said.
A WASHINGTON POST TALLY COUNTS 22 DEMOCRATS WHO ARE NOW OPENLY OPPOSED TO HER, WITH ANOTHER 18 DODGING QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR POSITIONS.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California meets with reporters at her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday.