After making noise about new political leadership, Black Democrats in the House of Representatives were falling in line behind Congressional leader Nancy Pelosi to be the next speaker of the House. The stark reality was that the California Democrat wields political power that carries a lot of weight.
Democrats planned to vote Wednesday behind closed doors to nominate a speaker before a formal vote on the floor in January.
Connecticut’s Rep.-elect Jahana Hayes had a change of heart about Pelosi. Hayes announced on Tuesday that she now supports Pelosi’s bid to win the top post in the House when the new Democratic-led Congress takes over in January.
“I came into Washington with an open mind. I said I want to hear all the information, and I want to cast a vote that’s best for the people in my state. No one has asked me for a vote other than Nancy Pelosi. … at this point, I think it’s unreasonable for anyone to expect a vote when they haven’t even asked, so I am prepared to support Nancy Pelosi in caucus tomorrow when votes are cast,” Hayes said Tuesday on MSNBC.
Pelosi, who last served as House speaker in 2010 before the GOP swept Democrats out of power, was poised to retake the post. She needs 218 votes from the 435 House members to become speaker again. Opposition from within the party has faded away.
Hayes, who made history on Election Day to become Connecticut’s first Black women to serve in Congress, vowed during her campaign not to vote for Pelosi. That was before Pelosi donated to her campaign, according to the CT Mirror.
Some Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members made some noise about a leadership change before the 2018 midterm elections when the Democrats won control of the House. CBC chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana called for an African-American lawmaker to hold one of the top two leadership positions.
Ohio’s Rep. Marcia Fudge, a CBC member, hinted after the election this month that she might challenge Pelosi. But that never materialized, partially because Pelosi’s power to persuade was on display: She promised to restore a House panel on voting and place Fudge as its chair, according to the Washington Post.
It’s also no secret that those who oppose Pelosi and fail could face retribution, including withholding her immense fundraising support and blocking the ambitions of her political enemies. One way of doing that is through her power to assign committee posts, like Fudge’s. But on the flip side, any opponent of Pelosi could easily wind up on a House committee of little to no consequence.
CORRECTION: Nancy Pelosi was misidentified as the House Speaker in an earlier version of this article. The text has since been updated to reflect the correction.