It was just last month that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi won the nomination for the Speaker of the House in the Democratic Caucus. She handily won with 203 votes for and only 32 votes against. The only problem is she’ll need 218 votes on the house floor to win in January when the actual vote for Speaker of the House is held.
My thinking was that out of the 32 no votes she would easily gain the 15 she needed for the majority in the house. Those 32 no votes would be from congresspeople who object to Ms. Pelosi in one form or another and were voicing that objection in the caucus. But they would vote with the party in January. It would be one of the few times they could show their constituents their opposition to Ms. Pelosi in public without doing any real harm to party politics. I mean, how serious could the opposition be when they couldn’t even field a symbolic candidate to run against Ms. Pelosi in the caucus?
But apparently I am wrong. It seems like there is more back talk in the caucus and whining in the cloak rooms of the rotunda that can’t be ignored. And I guess there will be some rookies in the house in January that ran on an anti-Pelosi plank.
The caucus temporarily changed its rules Wednesday to allow for a “no” option on the speaker ballot to help Democrats who promised during their campaigns to vote against Pelosi to fulfill that pledge. Typically the only option for voting against a candidate in an uncontested race would be to leave the ballot blank or write in someone else’s name.
The thinking among Pelosi allies is that having an actual “no” vote on the ballot — which while secret members can take pictures of and share on social media if they wish — will be enough for most members and they can then vote for Pelosi on the floor since she’ll be the caucus’s nominee.
But more recently, Ms. Pelosi has announced that she has agreed to a term limit on her role as Speaker of the House. This is an effort to placate the anti-Pelosi crowd…who still can’t find someone to oppose the nominative speaker.
But it also was a demonstration of Pelosi’s skill as a deal maker. She was able to quell opposition from a group of lawmakers who campaigned against her while assuring that she could have as many as four more years in a job she relished — until she’s 82.
“I see myself as a bridge to the next generation of leaders,” Pelosi said in a statement announcing the deal. She added that it was “a recognition of my continuing responsibility to mentor and advance new members into positions of power and responsibility.”
Quite frankly I wouldn’t be opposed to younger leadership in both the house and the senate. There are plenty of younger Democratic members of both houses who could and should be taking on leadership roles. Otherwise when the current crop of 70 somethings leadership fades away, there may be a leadership void that we can ill afford.
Now it’s important that the Democrats are united behind their party leader. It’s hard enough to try to govern in split government without having to deal with a split party as well. If you aren’t sure of that look at the problems that the Republicans have experienced even when holding both houses and eventually the White House as well…i.e: Freedom Caucus, resignation of House Speaker John Boehner, lack of accomplishment of House Speaker Paul Ryan, etc.
Hopefully Ms. Pelosi can build party leadership and keep the White House in check. And quite frankly I became much more comfortable with a House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after seeing her in action in the Oval Office last week with President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Schumer than I had been all fall. We probably need her skill and experience now and maybe the next four years depending on what happens in 2020. She sees that too:
After Democrats won a House majority in the November election, Pelosi used a combination of pressure, persuasion and perks to whittle down her opponents. Her main argument was that she was the best person to confront Donald Trump, and she was able to make that point dramatically on Tuesday during an acrimonious exchange with the president in front of reporters and cameras.
She later told colleagues she felt like she needed to be the “mom” in the room, echoing her frequent argument for the need to have a woman at the negotiating table with political leadership otherwise composed of men. Many Democrats said they were cheered by the hard stance taken by Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer in the meeting.
So now I am looking forward to Speaker Nancy…and I am looking forward to all of the younger Democrats learning how to run the joint and getting ready to take it on!