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Newly elected Democrats angle for power as Pelosi struggles for votes

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi talks to reporters before heading into a Democratic caucus meeting in the Capitol on Nov. 14.
House
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi talks to reporters before heading
into a Democratic caucus meeting in the Capitol on Nov.
14.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Images


  • Newly-elected House Democrats are jockeying for power as
    Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi scrambles to assemble the required
    votes to be elected Speaker in the new Congress. 
  • A letter drafted by Michigan Rep.-elect Elissa Slotkin is
    being passed around the large freshman class, asking Pelosi to
    place incoming Democrats on powerful committees, among other
    demands. 
  • “Make no mistake, we are united in the belief that the Class
    of 2019 has a responsibility and mandate for change in the U.S.
    Congress,” the letter reads. 

Playing on their powerful numbers following a “blue wave”
election, newly-elected House Democrats are jockeying for power
as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
scrambles to assemble the required votes
to be elected
Speaker in the new Congress. 


A letter
drafted by Michigan Rep.-elect Elissa Slotkin is
being passed around the large freshman class, demanding that
Pelosi and other Democratic leaders place incoming Democrats on
the powerful Appropriations, Rules, Ways and Means, Energy and
Commerce, and Financial Services committees. 

It holds that the incoming class (which will make up more than
25% of the caucus) was elected on a mandate of change — and that
Democratic voters want them to be a “driving force” in the
legislative process.

While it’s not clear who will sign the letter besides Slotkin,
the demand acknowledges that the new lawmakers aren’t necessarily
united on policy specifics. More than two-thirds of the class
will represent red-leaning districts while others, like
Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were elected on leftist
platforms in deep blue districts to replace longtime Democratic
incumbents.

“We are a diverse group. Politically and ideologically, we have
different views,” the letter reads. “But make no mistake, we are
united in the belief that the Class of 2019 has a responsibility
and mandate for change in the U.S. Congress.”

It calls for new members to fill two spots on the Steering and
Policy Committee (which handles the party’s communications
messaging and committee assignments), for all bills to be
available for review for 72 hours before a vote, and for monthly
meetings to discuss legislation with leadership. 

Ocasio-Cortez, for her part, is pushing for a seat on the
powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, which would give her
influence over health care, environmental issues, and energy
policy — an opportunity to forward some of her key campaign
promises, including single-payer healthcare and a Green New
Deal. 


Rep.-elect Elissa Slotkin on election night in Michigan.
Rep.-elect
Elissa Slotkin on election night in Michigan.

Paul Sancya/AP

This comes as Pelosi is working fastidiously behind the scenes to
convince her colleagues — new and old — to support her bid for
speaker, as an insurgent group of Democrats pushes for new,
younger leadership. 

The minority leader and her allies argue that her fundraising
prowess, significant legislative accomplishments, recent
electoral victories, and a lack of any strong progressive
alternative should be enough to vault her to the speakership.
Pelosi has said she’s “100 percent” confident she’ll return to
her former position as speaker in the new Congress, citing
“overwhelming support” in her caucus.


Read more:

Nancy Pelosi is using gender to win over progressives in her
fight to become House speaker

And the effort to replace Pelosi — spearheaded by a group of
largely centrist lawmakers — took a blow last week when Rep.
Marcia Fudge, who’d been put forward as a potential challenger,
announced she wouldn’t run for speaker after Pelosi promised to
revive a subcommittee on elections and name Fudge its
chair. 

Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts centrist and one of the
leaders of the anti-Pelosi faction, released a statement on
Monday suggesting he would be open to negotiating with Pelosi —
suggesting that her two veteran deputies Reps. Steny Hoyer and
Jim Clyburn be replaced. 

But while Pelosi is expected to win the support of a majority of
the Democratic caucus during a Wednesday closed-door vote, her
opposition insists it has the votes to derail her bid on the
House floor. 

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