WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was endorsed by her caucus today to be the next speaker of the House, with 32 defections as opposed to the 63 “no” votes against her in the 2016 leadership race.
Pelosi can’t afford to lose those 32 votes in January when the full House decides on her speakership, leaving a few weeks for her to lobby dissenters to either vote for her or to vote “present,” which would reduce the margin she needs to win the required absolute majority of those voting.
Pelosi told reporters after the closed-door meeting that the House Democratic Caucus had a “most unifying session” and “it was so inspiring to hear my colleagues place my name in nomination once again for speaker of the House.”
“The emotion demonstrated by my colleague Adam Schiff when he talked about leadership and the challenges facing our nation was a joy to behold,” she added of the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
She said Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) also put her name in the ring and “wrapped it all up in such a beautiful way, not about me but about our challenges and about our need to be unified for the future.”
“We’re going to have a Congress, sessions of Congress that are like America’s town hall meetings where the miracle of technology will enable us to communicate very directly in the social media, help us engage the public, be responsive to them, and also to mobilize around the issues of importance to us,” Pelosi declared. “And amass the resources, intellectual and political, to reelect this very spectacular class as we move to, again, winning the White House in 2020.”
Democrats have flipped 40 seats in midterm elections as the last, late House races have been called. Pelosi said it would be “a special honor” to be speaker when the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment is celebrated next year. “Are there dissenters? Yes, but I expect to have a powerful vote as we go forward,” she said.
“When I was speaker and President Bush was president, he treated me and the office I hold with great respect. He would jovially call me No. 3. He’s No. 1, the vice president was No. 2, I was No 3. He never began a meeting unless the speaker was present. We worked together on many issues relating to energy, passing the biggest energy bill in the history of our country, PEPFAR… the list goes on and on,” Pelosi continued. “I would expect nothing less than that from this president of the United States. We are a coequal branch of government. My power there springs from the vote of the members of the House of Representatives. I think that the president will be respectful of that.”
Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is scheduled to deliver his farewell address a week from today at the Library of Congress. Today he received the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service at the Pentagon.
On Thursday, Ryan is expected to give a farewell speech on the House floor thanking his constituents and staff. He’ll later attend the unveiling of his House Budget Committee chairman portrait.
Ryan told reporters today that he would close “one of the most productive Congresses in recent memory.”
“We have an opportunity in the next coming weeks to get a few more things done, to get some good things done. We want to reform our criminal justice system to give people another shot at contributing to their communities. We’re still working on a farm bill. We are getting very close on the farm bill. We’ve got bipartisan initiatives to build on the success of tax reform. These are outstanding issues. And, of course, as you can see, we want to secure our border. It’s very important for the national security of our country that we actually secure our border,” he said. “So in the next few weeks, we’re going to continue to work to create a more prosperous, more confident, more secure America, and that’s what we intend to do.”