Pelosi remains top House Democrat despite landslide election

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WASHINGTON - Nancy Pelosi will lead the Democratic minority in the US House of Representatives, prevailing Wednesday in an intra-party vote despite her party’s landslide defeat in Nov 2 congressional elections.

Meanwhile, Republican Congressman John Boehner of Ohio was re-elected leader of his party’s House faction, US media reported, putting the current minority leader in line to become House speaker when the conservative party takes control of the chamber in January.

While Boehner’s election was unopposed, Pelosi faced a minor rebellion in her party’s ranks, with some Democrats believing she should accept responsibility for their hammering in the congressional elections earlier this month.

“I’m proud to be part of this leadership team,” Pelosi told reporters after the vote. “Our consensus is that we go out there listening to the American people.”

Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, was elected by a vote of 150-43. She defeated conservative Democrat Heath Shuler of North Carolina, who argued that Pelosi had alienated voters and become a liability for Democrats going forward.

Speaking after the vote, Shuler said he never expected to win. His challenge was meant to “ensure that the moderates are heard within the caucus and that we really have a seat at the table”.

Republicans gained more than 60 seats in the 435-member House during the Nov 2 election, marking the biggest mid-term swing in the chamber since World War II and delivering a major blow to President Barack Obama’s agenda at the midpoint of his four-year term.

Boehner will be officially elected speaker of the House when the chamber’s new term begins in January. The Republicans campaigned on repealing many of Obama’s biggest legislative achievements over the past two years, including the controversial health care overhaul.

Pelosi, who has led her party’s caucus for eight years, was vilified by conservatives during the election as the face of a party they argued had expanded government beyond reason and overreached on a series of domestic policies.

Obama’s Democrats were blamed by many voters for failing to push the US into a fuller economic recovery. Unemployment in the country remains near 10 percent.

“The message we received from the American people is that they want a job,” Pelosi said, promising to “extend a hand of friendship” to Republicans in the new Congress.

Some Democrats had pushed for the party to delay its leadership elections until December in order to give lawmakers more time for introspection after their Nov 2 drubbing.

“I think we missed an opportunity today to send a signal to America that we understand what happened this past election,” said Bill Pascrell of New Jersey.

But other Democratic lawmakers came to Pelosi’s defence, with some suggesting she should not take the fall for what they considered Obama’s failings as president. Pelosi is considered a prodigious fundraiser and an expert political tactician in the chamber.

“She has led us to historic heights,” Congressman Xavier Becerra of California told reporters.

Other Democrats elected to their party’s House leadership included Steny Hoyer, a moderate who will remain the second-ranked Democrat, and Jim Clyburn, a veteran left-leaning lawmaker who will become the third-ranked “assistant leader” after a failed attempt to unseat Hoyer.

Republicans chose Eric Cantor, an up-and-coming Virginia Republican, to be the party’s majority leader, the number-two position in the chamber behind Boehner, US media reported.

The Republican leadership team will be formally announced Thursday.

Filed under: Politics

Tags: ,
will not be displayed