There’s little doubt that Nancy Pelosi will probably be reelected House speaker when the brand new Congress convenes on Sunday. It may take a high-wire act for her to get there, largely because of the pandemic.
The solely girl in historical past to function speaker, the California Democrat has a status as a formidable vote-counter and wily deal-cutter. Those expertise have helped her fend off threats and cement her as chief of her get together within the House since 2003, and appear more likely to carry the day on January 3, when the Constitution requires the brand new Congress to start.
“Yeah, I do,” Pelosi advised a reporter this week when requested if she had the votes wrapped up.
In what appeared a sign of confidence, Pelosi advised reporters Wednesday that Rep.-elect Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, will probably be sworn in, at the same time as Democratic opponent Rita Hart’s problem to the election outcomes stays below assessment by the House. Miller-Meeks is definite to vote in opposition to Pelosi to be speaker.
Even so, the terrain Pelosi faces will permit virtually no margin for error.
The full House elects the speaker, and Democrats could have the chamber’s smallest majority in 20 years in a vote through which Republicans are sure to vote unanimously in opposition to her, joined by Democratic defectors. Democrats could have a 222-211 edge, with one race nonetheless undecided and one emptiness after Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, R-La., died Tuesday after battling COVID-19.
The raging coronavirus pandemic, mixed with routine sicknesses and the same old dangers of wintertime journey, may make attendance unpredictable for the primary House roll name in months that lawmakers must attend in individual. To keep away from dangers of publicity to COVID-19, the House altered its guidelines this 12 months to let its members vote by proxy from their properties, however that change dies with the outdated Congress.
“I’m fine,” Pelosi mentioned when requested if COVID absences had been a priority.
The speaker’s election, through which members historically vote verbally in alphabetical order, has lengthy been the primary vote taken by the brand new House. Because of COVID issues, lawmakers will probably be voting in teams in a roll name anticipated to final three to 4 hours.
“It’s extraordinarily tricky” for Pelosi, mentioned Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., an 18-year congressional veteran. Still, he mentioned, he expects her to prevail “because I don’t see what the alternative is” for Democrats.
To ensure that they’re at full energy, each events’ leaders are urging lawmakers to take well being precautions and return to Washington properly forward of Sunday to keep away from journey snags.
“I nonetheless have folks come as much as me who say, ‘Well, I can vote remotely, right?’” House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said earlier this month of his colleagues. “No, you can’t.” In a memo this week, Congress’ chief doctor, Dr Brian Monahan, and House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving advised House members that any company, together with household, must comply with native District of Columbia necessities for COVID testing.
On a day when members’ households and pals usually swarm all around the Capitol, incoming House freshmen will probably be allowed only one visitor apiece within the chamber’s gallery to look at them take their oaths. Returning members is not going to be allowed any company within the gallery.
Top Democrats have checked on the provision of lawmakers who’ve had severe well being issues. McGovern says Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., 84, who’s been preventing pancreatic most cancers, has advised him he intends to attend. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., who almost died from pneumonia after falling whereas operating in March and has been convalescing ever since, says he’s advised Pelosi he’ll return to the Capitol for opening day.
“I’m planning on going back because that’s my job,” mentioned DeSaulnier, 68.
Pelosi retains the assist of most Democrats, who revere her for main their 2018 recapture of House management and their battles in opposition to President Donald Trump. She’s saved her get together’s moderates and progressives largely united and raised boatloads of marketing campaign money.
But at 80, about the identical age as her high two lieutenants, Pelosi stays a supply of frustration for youthful Democrats desperate to climb the management chain. Discontent and division have grown after anticipated features in final month’s elections evaporated and 12 Democrats misplaced House seats, prompting requires contemporary messengers in response to criticism that get together leaders did a poor job of campaigning on the nation’s deep financial issues.
No Democratic rival to Pelosi has emerged, enormously diminishing the chances she’ll be toppled. Perhaps unanimously, Republicans will again Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California for speaker, however he appears destined to turn into minority chief once more.
Even so, Pelosi should decrease the variety of Democrats opposing her.
Of 15 Democrats who bucked her when she was elected speaker in January 2019, three misplaced reelection final month. One is in a race the place votes are nonetheless being counted and one other grew to become a Republican.
That leaves 10 Democrats who opposed her two years in the past. Of these, Washington Rep. Kurt Schrader has mentioned he’s now open to backing her and at the least two others have mentioned they may achieve this, Jason Crow of Colorado and Jim Cooper of Tennessee.
It’s unknown how lots of the 15 incoming Democratic freshmen may oppose Pelosi.
Voting for speaker has wanted a number of ballots solely 14 occasions, together with in 1923, the one time that has occurred because the Civil War.