US House Democrats nominate Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker

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Nancy Pelosi, a mainstay of American politics for nearly two decades, was nominated by her fellow Democrats to again be the speaker of the US House of Representatives.
US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi arrives for a closed organisational meeting of the House Democrats to elect leaders for the 116th Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, US, on Nov 28, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Nancy Pelosi, a mainstay of American politics for nearly two decades, was nominated by her fellow Democrats on Wednesday (Nov 28) to again be the Speaker of the US House of Representatives as she manoeuvred to squelch a small group demanding younger leadership.

As Democrats prepare to retake control of the House, Ms Pelosi, 78, won the secret ballot contest in which she had no opponent.

Over the next few weeks, she will try to win over enough naysayers within her own party to nail down a victory in early January when the full House convenes to elect a new speaker. On Wednesday, she made progress when some of the potential renegades announced their support for her.

If Ms Pelosi does come up short, Democrats likely will scurry before the January House vote to find an acceptable replacement and avoid a messy floor fight at the start of the year.

Republicans, who next year will be in the minority for the first time since 2010, are expected to vote against any Democratic nominee for speaker.

Democrats are fresh off their Nov 6 election victories giving them majority control of the House next year and Ms Pelosi, who is currently House Democratic leader, wants to lead the party's challenge to President Donald Trump's political and legislative agendas in 2019-2020.

Ms Pelosi, a House veteran from California, is attempting the rare feat of securing the speaker's gavel for a non-consecutive term, having become the first female speaker in US history in 2007.

Her run as speaker ended in 2011, however, when Republicans held a majority in the House.

The House speaker sets the chamber's legislative agenda and is second, behind the vice-president, in the line of succession to the president.

A leading critic of Ms Pelosi, Representative Tim Ryan, left a morning session refusing to comment on whether he thought his group of dissenters can stop her from becoming speaker.

Representative Gerry Connolly said the opponents lacked a game plan for vanquishing Ms Pelosi. "Meanwhile, we have a very skilled, tested experienced leader who doesn't need on-the-job training," Mr Connolly said referring to Ms Pelosi.

Ms Pelosi's detractors have argued that they could control just enough votes to topple her during the vote by the full House.

When the new Congress convenes in January, Democrats will hold at least 233 of the House's 435 seats. Assuming that all Republicans vote against Ms Pelosi for speaker, just 17 or 18 Democratic opponents could be enough to block her from becoming speaker.

In that case, the renegades argue, Democrats would be forced to find another candidate.

Democrats clamoring for fresh faces to rise into House leadership got a boost on Wednesday when Representative Hakeem Jeffries, 48, defeated Representative Barbara Lee, 72, to head the Democratic caucus.

Ms Pelosi has pledged to pursue an agenda next year that includes investing in infrastructure projects, lowering prescription drug prices and changing campaign finance laws to give small donors more sway in elections.

She has also promised to hold investigations into Trump administration activities following two years of lax oversight by Republicans, who will still hold their majority in the Senate.

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