Democrats won the majority. Now they just need a speaker of the House.
The standoff over Nancy Pelosi’s bid to regain the gavel intensified Friday as Democrats left Washington for the Thanksgiving holiday, an unsettling finish to an otherwise triumphant week that saw them welcome a historic class of newcomers to Capitol Hill and prepare to take control.
Pelosi was certain that she will be speaker once more, reviving her role as the first woman to wield the gavel. But her foes were equally confident they have the votes to stop her.
For now, it’s a band of disgruntled Democrats, led mostly by men, standing against the sweep of nationally-known Pelosi allies. With a test vote looming in late November, and at least one potential Pelosi challenger stepping forward, Democrats faced the grim prospect of the internal squabble over the Jan. 3 speaker’s vote dragging on for weeks, with no clear end game in sight.
“I think chaos is good if it’s productive. I think chaos is bad if it is too disruptive and it divides us too much,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, whose leaders were upbeat after meeting with Pelosi this week.
“We don’t have a lot of time,” Jayapal said. “We need to put forward the vision of who we are as a party and what we’re fighting for and so that needs to happen very, very quickly.”
MoveOn.org noted her work passing the health care law and said “Dems must reject attempts to defeat her and move caucus to the right.”
It’s not lost on supporters that a group made up of mostly men is leading the effort to oust her. On the list of 17 names who’ve signed onto a letter against her, just three are women.
“We shouldn’t let a small group of white, moderate men sabotage her. We support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House,” tweeted Indivisible, the group that formed after the 2016 election in opposition to Trump’s agenda and has activists nationwide.
Pelosi has fended off challenges before, but this one poses perhaps the biggest threat yet.
With a narrow Democratic majority, now at 231 seats, she does not have much cushion to secure the 218 votes needed on the floor if all Republicans vote against her, as expected. Some House races remain undecided and the Democratic majority could grow slightly.
There is a chance the math could shift in Pelosi’s favor if lawmakers are absent or simply vote “present,” meaning she would need fewer than 218 votes for an absolute majority.
Nancy Pelosi, stands in favor of increased background checks for potential gun owners, as well as the controversial banning of assault weapons. In February 2013, she called for the “Boldest possible move” on gun control, similar to a stance made just weeks earlier by former Representative, mass shooting victim, and fellow gun control advocate Gabrielle Giffords. In 2012, she was given 0% ratings by both the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America for her stances on gun control.
In November 2018, after the Thousand Oaks shooting, Pelosi released a statement saying Americans “deserve real action to end the daily epidemic of gun violence that is stealing the lives of our children on campuses, in places of worship and on our streets” and pledged that gun control would be a priority for House Democrats in the 116th United States Congress.