Just the Facts

Five Facts on Nancy Pelosi's Bid for Speaker

By Emma Petasis
November 16, 2018 | Blog

Here are five facts on Nancy Pelosi’s bid for speaker:

Democratic leadership elections will not take place until after December 5

With the Democrats in power, their leadership elections have quickly taken center stage, with all eyes focused on Nancy Pelosi (CA) and the race to replace Republican Paul Ryan as speaker of the House. Nancy Pelosi has been the top Democrat in the House for 15 years and served as speaker from 2007 until 2011.  As speaker, she would have the power to direct the legislative agenda, institute rules reforms in the House, and would have powerful oversight of the numerous committees in the House.  As of now, her top deputies are expected to be Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who is running unopposed for majority leader, and James Clyburn (D-SC), a longtime member of Democratic leadership, who is facing Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) in the race for majority whip.

Pelosi has stated that she is “100%” confident that she will be the next speaker of the House

As would be expected, Pelosi has faced harsh criticism from her Republican colleagues, but she has also faced backlash from within her own party.  Several veteran representatives, such as a Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) have been vocal critics of Pelosi and have challenged her leadership in the past. However, following the midterms, their ranks have been bolstered by a new class of members, several of whom were staunch critics of Pelosi on the campaign trail. It is reported that 17 members have signed a letter stating that they will not vote for Pelosi.  While the exact margin in the House has yet to be determined, this strong opposition will make it difficult for Pelosi to get the required 218 votes to be elected speaker.

Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio has emerged as a potential challenger to Pelosi

One of the main issues facing House Democrats opposed to Pelosi is that they did not have a candidate to challenge her.  However, over the past few days Fudge, a 10-year veteran of the House and a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, has a emerged as potential alternative. While she has yet to formally announce her intentions, Fudge stated, “Over the last 12 hours, I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of support I’ve received.” Chief among those in open support of Fudge is Seth Moulton, who called her “the kind of new leader that we need in this party.”

Nine Democratic members of the bipartisan house Problem Solvers Caucus have announced that they will support only a speaker candidate who agrees to rule reforms

In July, members of the caucus, frustrated by the lack of bipartisanship and the disproportionate level of control that leadership exercised in the House, introduced the Break the Gridlock package.  The package proposed a series of ideas designed to promote bipartisan legislation, empower rank-and-file members of the House, and free leadership from the constraints of the far-right and the far-left, depending on which party was in power.  Four months later, nine Democratic caucus members who signed on to the package are withholding their vote for speaker until the nominee agrees to the rule reforms.  With a tight margin in the House and somewhat divided caucus, these nine votes could be the key to a nominee securing the number of votes required to become speaker.

Republican members of the Problem Solvers Caucus have also indicated they would be open to voting for a Democratic speaker if the candidate agrees to rules reforms

Not only have Democratic members of the Caucus pledged their support to the nominee that will support the rules reforms, so too have Republican members. The Caucus’ co-chair, Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), has stated that he would be willing to vote for any Democratic nominee that would support the reforms.  While he said he did not want to speak for his colleagues, he relayed that there were several other House Republicans who had told him that they would be willing to do the same.  If a Democratic nominee is unable to get the required votes, this could be one potential strategy to get over the 218-vote threshold.

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