Houlahan won’t commit to Pelosi ... yet
Congresswoman-elect Chrissy Houlahan has yet to decide whether she will support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House, a position made possible by House gains that Houlahan symbolizes.
Asked her position on the speaker’s race, which has grown contentious in the days since the Democrats’ election victories in House races in Pennsylvania and across the country, Houlahan told the Washington, D.C., publication The Hill: “I have enormous respect for Leader Pelosi, but I do want to make sure that I understand to the degree that I can what kind of reform can happen on the floor so that new voices can be heard.”
Later Sunday, in a television interview on CBS News, Houlahan said in regards to Pelosi, “I am actually fundamentally leaning towards voting for her. But I take this responsibility very, very seriously.
“There are a lot of moving parts in leadership and many decisions that need to be made, not just her election, but the election of other people’s as — people as well,” she said. “And I’m a deliberative person.”
Houlahan, a first-time candidate for office who outspent her opponent significantly, won a historic election in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District on Nov. 6, becoming not only the fist woman to represent Chester County in Congress but the first Democrat to do so since the years before the Civil War.
Houlahan defeated fellow political newcomer Republican Greg McCauley to represent the 6th District, which includes all of Chester County and parts of Berks County, including the City of Reading.
Houlahan has been meeting with fellow newly elected House members in Washington this past week and going through the steps of learning the ropes of being a member of Congress. The Hill has reported that she has placed her name in consideration for a position among the Democratic House leadership, launching a bid for one of the three co-chair slots on the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
“I think that people recognize that there is this great big class of people who are coming in with kind of fresh experience and fresh legs and fresh ideas and that if we would like to maintain the majority that we need to make sure that we’re listening to everybody,” she said in an interview.
There are at least five candidates in that race already, although Houlahan, a former business executive, Air Force officer and educator, is the only one running from among the incoming freshman class.
“We need someone who’s been through this recently to be able to have that conversation about what it is really like to be a candidate or a congressperson in the post-Trump environment,” she said.
Houlahan was one of Democrats’ star recruits of the 2018 cycle, and not only raised more than $3 million but ran highly effective ads on social media and television that emphasized her personal experience in a visually grabbing way.
The fight over Pelosi has grabbed headlines, although not much actual proceedings. For now, it’s a band of disgruntled Democrats, led mostly by men, standing against the sweep of nationally-known Pelosi allies. With a test vote looming in late November, and at least one potential Pelosi challenger stepping forward, Democrats faced the grim prospect of the internal squabble over the Jan. 3 speaker’s vote dragging on for weeks, with no clear end game in sight.
“I think chaos is good if it’s productive. I think chaos is bad if it is too disruptive and it divides us too much,” said U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, of Washington, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, whose leaders were upbeat after meeting with Pelosi last week.
Chrissy Houlahan speaks to her supporters at Franklin Commons in Phoenixville on Nov. 6, after claiming victory in the 6th Congressional District.