After weeks of uncertainty among Democrats over the future of House leadership, the party elected Nancy Pelosi as minority leader in a 150 to 43 vote. They also elected Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer for whip and South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn as assistant leader.
North Carolina Rep. Health Shuler, leader of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, who challenged Pelosi for the party’s top slot, acknowledged he did not have enough votes to win but led a small contingent of the party against Pelosi.
Avoiding a potential showdown between Hoyer and Clyburn for the whip position, Pelosi brokered a deal last weekend by offering Clyburn the position of “assistant leader”, which will make him the third-ranking Democrat in the House.
Shortly before the leadership vote, Democrats shot down a motion to postpone the election, which some in the caucus said was being held too soon after the devastating midterm elections two weeks ago.
Using a secret ballot, the party voted 129-68 to stop a measure to put off the leadership elections until Dec. 8, effectively ensuring a final vote on who would lead the party by the end of the day.
Members of the group that led the charge to put off the votes said the party needed more time for soul searching after major losses in the Nov. 2 election that gave Republicans the majority in the House.
“Having a couple of weeks would have been appropriate to determine what is the direction, what is the message,” said Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio.
Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, who proposed the motion and has been openly critical of Pelosi, called the 68 votes received a “substantial message.”