'Her toughest test yet': Nancy Pelosi to wield speaker's gavel with thin majority in what may be her last term

Written by on January 2, 2021

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Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is pleased with the outcomes of the election regardless of a lack of Home seats. (Nov. 6) AP Home

WASHINGTON – Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi is predicted to take the gavel one final time Sunday because the Home elects who will information them via the beginning of a post-Trump Washington, marking the beginning of what’s anticipated to be the final time period of the trailblazer’s historic profession on the U.S. Capitol. 

The total chamber is about to vote on the speaker Sunday round midday, a course of that’s anticipated to stretch a number of hours resulting from COVID-19 and social distancing efforts. Whereas Pelosi is broadly anticipated to win the speakership once more, two potential issues may cloud the day: potential Democratic defections and absences resulting from COVID-19.

Democratic losses in November left the celebration with a 222-211 majority, with one race nonetheless undecided and one emptiness to be crammed after Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, R-La., died last week after battling COVID-19. A majority is required, and if all of the Home’s 435 members are current, 218 of 222 Democrats would must again Pelosi.

The brand new razor-thin majority means Pelosi will solely have the ability to lose a handful of votes, providing a preview of the challenges certain to hang-out her over the following two years as she works to unite competing factions within the celebration behind President-elect Joe Biden. 

“I believe that is going to be her hardest take a look at but,” stated Michael Hardaway, a former spokesman for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Home Democrats, who now heads a political intelligence startup referred to as Hardaway Wire. “You are going to have the progressives versus the moderates on almost each invoice. It may be robust for her to get something carried out, however here is the factor: if anybody can do that, it is Nancy Pelosi.”

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Pelosi works round acknowledging final time period

Whereas most on Capitol Hill count on this to be Pelosi’s final time period as Home speaker – a mantle she first took in 2007 when she turned the primary girl to guide the Home – the California Democrat has rigorously danced across the matter and left some guessing.

She appeared to acknowledge the top of her tenure main Home Democrats, which she’s carried out since 2003, when requested by reporters about it final month, however Pelosi left herself some wiggle room. She acknowledged a deal she made in 2018 with Democrats that this is able to be her final time period to pave the way in which for a youthful batch of leaders. She and her prime lieutenants have held the highest slots within the Home for greater than a decade,

“I don’t need to undermine any leverage I could have, however I made the assertion,” she stated final month, referring to the deal.

Many say Pelosi is correct to be involved {that a} lame-duck time period may weaken her skill to leverage the ability she holds.

“She is without doubt one of the smartest operators Democrats have ever had and he or she is aware of the second she publicizes her departure, she offers up her leverage,” Hardaway stated. “All of the negotiations she has inside the caucus and with Republicans, she’d be working at an obstacle. She is aware of she’d be crippling herself.”

After delivering the Reasonably priced Care Act, enjoying a key position in restoration efforts after the 2008 monetary disaster, negotiating the largest-ever emergency reduction packages to counter the coronavirus and main the chamber when it impeached Trump, Pelosi is marking the top of her profession by leaving it within the arms of a traditionally numerous Home of Representatives, as her celebration takes management of the White Home. 

“She has delivered,” Hardaway stated. “She has carried out a masterful job and that is the proper time the place she is ready to experience off within the sundown.” 

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Agenda, challenges over subsequent two years

Pelosi has largely been a key face of the resistance to Trump, a strong determine who labored to dismantle Trump’s agenda and ceaselessly drew his ire. She is going to return to the speakership in a special position, a key negotiator working to assist Biden move his legislative agenda. 

Certainly one of her political strengths has been to rigorously handle the varied egos and agendas of a various caucus, protecting lots of of Democrats united. Home Majority Chief Steny Hoyer, the Maryland Democrat who serves as her proper hand, stated that was significantly on show in 2019 when the House lodged articles of impeachment against Trump. In an interview, Hoyer praised Pelosi’s management and famous there was no strong-arming members, regardless of requires months from some within the caucus to maneuver ahead with impeachment.

“This previous Congress was one in every of her finest shows of management and consensus constructing,” Hoyer stated. “The way in which she dealt with the impeachment was sensible. We didn’t foyer a single member. We didn’t act prematurely (regardless of) requires the 12 months previous to that.”

However the slimmed-down majority, the thinnest in many years, will make her job loads more durable.

The Home misplaced a couple of dozen seats in November and Biden introduced one other two members of the caucus, who serve in protected Democratic districts, will go away to work within the White Home after he’s sworn in later this month. The potential ofonly a handful of seats givingDemocrats the bulk will imply Pelosi should work additional time to keepher caucus united if there’s any likelihood of passing Biden’s legislative priorities. That dynamic may even carry over to the vote on her speakership. In 2019, when Democrats elected the California Democrat to once more lead them, 15 caucus members voted in opposition to her. A number of of these members misplaced reelection bids, however the tight margin means Pelosi received’t have the ability to lose so a lot of her members this spherical.

Extra: Democratic Party waging a war over its future just as Joe Biden takes helm

Progressives, over the years, have been unafraid to defy Pelosi, denying her votes on measures they decried as not going far sufficient. And the rise of the “squad,” led by Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, could pose a bigger problem during this Congress because the freshmen lawmakers change into more-seasoned sophomores.

Hardaway famous the group already had a powerful voice and following however now have a greater understanding of methods to “leverage their affect.” He famous they not solely have a greater understanding of the legislative course of, however have additionally added new progressive voices to their ranks after November’s election. 

And because of the thinned margins between events, moderates can be essential in negotiating compromises, whatever the outcomes of a pair of runoff races in Georgia on Tuesday that may decide which political celebration controls the Senate.

“The challenges are going to be multi-faceted,” stated Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist and former senior aide to Senate Majority Chief Harry Reid, D-Nev. “The margins are very, very slender. That’s probably very problematic.”

Manley defined one key asset the Biden administration deliberate to have was management of the Home and the flexibility to rapidly move laws. Whereas the Home will nonetheless be managed by Democrats, the smaller margins and intra-party disputes are more likely to gradual Biden’s legislative agenda.

“She’s going to have to spend so much extra time getting buy-in from her caucus, which can gradual issues down,” he stated. “The entire crux of the Biden administration was to simply and rapidly transfer payments via the Home and therapeutic massage them within the Senate in the event that they need to get something carried out.”

Regardless of the tight margins, Pelosi has crafted out a transparent set of priorities over the following two years – a plan that intently aligns with Biden’s agenda.

On the prime of the listing is passing measures that may curb darkish cash in politics and develop voting entry. She additionally goals to sort out overhauling the nation’s immigration system, requiring background checks for gun purchases and to take up an infrastructure invoice that would assist in financial restoration efforts within the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

Contributing: Ledyard King

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