In a closed-door meeting Wednesday, House Democrats nominated House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to return as House speaker next year. It's a "vote of confidence," as Pelosi described it, for when the whole House officially votes for its leader in January.
Pelosi ran unopposed to become speaker, the same role she held when Democrats held a House majority from 2007-2011. But she faced opposition from some Democrats, mostly newcomers, who wanted to see fresh leadership. Sixteen representatives signed a letter officially opposing Pelosi, and the nine Democratic members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus demanded a set of rule changes before they would back Pelosi.
One of those letter-signing defectors, Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), told The Washington Post on Wednesday there was "no alternative" to electing Pelosi. Pelosi also reached a deal with the Problem Solvers on Wednesday, securing their support. Still, 22 Democrats opposed Pelosi as of Wednesday by the Post's count. Pelosi could only lose 17 Democratic votes without losing the speakership, assuming every Republican votes against her.
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Also on Wednesday, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) beat Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), 123-113, for caucus chair. The spot was vacated by outgoing Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), who Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez surprisingly beat earlier this year. Both Jeffries and Lee are members of the Congressional Black Caucus, but the 72-year-old Lee said "institutional barriers" including gender and age likely prevented her from winning the race. The 48-year-old Jeffries will take the No. 5 spot in the Democratic House and is seen as a "future party leader," Politico writes. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), meanwhile, was elected to chair the Congressional Black Caucus.
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