House Democrats met behind closed doors Wednesday to nominate House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) to be speaker when their party takes control of the House next year. Pelosi secured a majority of votes; opponents offered no alternative.
But when the new Congress meets Jan. 3, the congresswoman, 78, must overcome more than a dozen Democratic rebels to amass the necessary votes in the full House to become speaker.
The gathering provided a key test of strength for Pelosi, who was busy finalizing a deal with a group of holdout centrists before the vote. Meanwhile, leaders of the “Never Nancy” movement said after meeting with Pelosi that their concerns were not addressed and that they remained opposed to voting for her.
Pelosi addressed reporters on Capitol Hill as votes were being counted in the race for Democratic leader. She said it was “so inspiring” to hear her colleagues place her name in nomination for speaker and dismissed questions about dissenters within her caucus.
“Our diversity is our strength, but our unity is our power, and we will use that power again in a unifying way for our country,” she said, maintaining that “we’re in pretty good shape” for January’s speaker vote.
She concluded her remarks by reminding those present that Democrats will soon be back in the “majority, majority, majority!”
The group of Democrats voted on other key leadership positions, too.
Rep. Karen Bass (Calif.) has been elected chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, as the group is poised to flex its political muscle like never before. Bass, the first African American woman to become the speaker of any state legislature, has served in Congress since 2010. In the next Congress, the CBC will have more than 50 members for the first time since its founding in 1971, accounting for more than 20 percent of all Democratic votes.
Elise Viebeck, Paul Kane and JM Rieger contributed to this report.