Internal House leadership battle shifts from Ryan to Pelosi, Dems delay vote
Tuesday House Democrats decided to delay their leadership vote as Nancy Pelosi faces turbulence in the ranks in the wake of last week’s election. On the other side of the aisle, House Speaker Paul Ryan appears to have enough support to secure a second term in the top congressional post. Republicans are expected to formally re-nominate him for the job later Tuesday.
Given Donald Trump’s surprise White House victory last week and Democrats’ meager gains in Congress, the internal wrangling over leadership has shifted dramatically to the Democratic side.
While nobody has yet stepped forward to formally challenge Pelosi for her job as Democratic leader, her party’s performance last Tuesday has made Pelosi more vulnerable — especially after she repeatedly predicted her party would take control of the House after Nov. 8.
Democrats in the Republican-controlled chamber decided to postpone their leadership votes until after Thanksgiving, after a coalition of 34 House Democrats pressed Pelosi, D-Calif., in two recent letters to delay the vote originally scheduled for Thursday.
The Democrats are now set to vote Nov. 30.
Pelosi, who has led House Democrats in varying capacities including as speaker since 2003, appeared last week to dismiss the idea of postponing the votes.
She wrote in a letter Friday to the House Democratic Caucus that other members “have indicated a strong desire to proceed with elections next week in order to prepare forcefully for the lame duck session and the challenges we will face in January.”
However, amid the mounting pressure, Pelosi told members at meeting Tuesday: “We’ve been through hell,” and “I don’t care when the election is,” according to a source in the room.
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., told Fox New afterward that the vote has been delayed because his party got a “shellacking” and it’s time to “recalibrate.”
The House GOP’s vote to reappoint Ryan as speaker is still scheduled for Tuesday, despite earlier rumblings from some of the most conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill about delaying the vote or an outright change in leaders.
The announcement Sunday that Ryan’s Wisconsin hometown friend and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will be Trump’s White House chief of staff helped blunt such efforts, as did Trump’s upset victory last week. Even Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Monday he’ll back Ryan for the post.
The full House vote for speaker is in January.