House Democrats support Pelosi's bid to be Speaker again

Mrs Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking woman in US congressional history, said she was "very, very honoured" to accept the nomination for Speaker and pledged to take action to help "crush" the Covid-19 crisis.
Mrs Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking woman in US congressional history, said she was "very, very honoured" to accept the nomination for Speaker and pledged to take action to help "crush" the Covid-19 crisis.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON • US Democratic lawmakers have chosen House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 80, to lead the party into the Joe Biden era and preside over their narrow House majority as the most powerful person in Congress.

The highest-ranking woman in US congressional history - and outgoing President Donald Trump's chief nemesis on Capitol Hill - ran unopposed for the top job.

She was nominated on Wednesday in a virtual leadership election, the first of its kind as the nation grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

Mrs Pelosi said she was "very, very honoured" to accept the nomination for Speaker and pledged to take action to help "crush" the Covid-19 crisis. What Congress addresses next "has to be about justice in our economy, it has to be about justice in our justice system", she added.

"Justice in our environment, environmental justice, justice in our healthcare."

A formal House floor vote for the post of Speaker occurs in January after the new congressional session begins, and shortly before Mr Biden takes office as the 46th US president. She is widely expected to win.

Mrs Pelosi has led her caucus since 2003.

Two years ago, she agreed to serve in the post through 2022 at most, a move that may have cleared the way for her easy re-nomination on Wednesday.

The House Democratic caucus, in a tweet, hailed the nomination of their "fearless leader".

But tensions have simmered.

In the Nov 3 election, Democrats fell well short of their stated target of expanding their 233-202 majority, failing to oust a single Republican incumbent and losing at least 10 seats.

Some close races were still being counted, but when the dust settles Mrs Pelosi may find that she is leading the narrowest majority in years. While there have been calls within the ranks for new blood in the ideologically fractured conference's leadership, the top three spots went to a trio of octogenarians led by Mrs Pelosi.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, 81, and 80-year-old House Majority Whip James Clyburn, the highest ranking black member, were also both re-elected unopposed to their leadership posts.

The highest-ranking contested race was for Assistant Speaker, the No. 4 party position, and it is showcasing potential members of a new generation of Democratic leaders.

It pits congresswoman Katherine Clark, 57, and currently the vice-chair of the Democratic caucus, against the more progressive Democrat David Cicilline, 59, the first openly gay member of House leadership.

Republicans during the campaign had painted their Democratic rivals as "radical" leftists who sought to defund the police and embrace socialism, a message they reiterated on Tuesday after their own House leadership vote re-elected the top Republican lawmakers including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2020, with the headline 'House Democrats support Pelosi's bid to be Speaker again'. Print Edition | Subscribe