House Democrats Choosing Party Leaders for New Majority in 2019

(Bloomberg) -- House Democrats are choosing leaders for their new majority for 2019, nominating Nancy Pelosi to regain the speaker’s gavel and picking a 48-year-old New York lawmaker to join the otherwise older, returning slate of officers.

Closed-door voting to re-elect Pelosi’s top two party lieutenants -- both in their 70s -- will continue into Wednesday afternoon. But the morning election of Hakeem Jeffries, 48, to serve as caucus chair in a contested race against another Democrat represented a nod to some members’ calls for some younger leaders.

The full House will vote Jan. 3 for the speaker, and thus far it’s uncertain whether Pelosi will have enough support within her party to win.

Future Democratic leaders are jockeying for position in the lower levels of House leadership. One of them could eventually emerge as the next top Democrat following Pelosi’s description of herself as a “transitional leader,” although she has resisted spelling out when she may leave.

  • Senate Republicans and Democrats, and House Republicans, chose their leaders for the next Congress earlier this month.

House Democratic Leaders

  • Pelosi, 78, of California won the party’s nomination to run for speaker in an election on the House floor Jan. 3. The 203-32 vote Wednesday is short of the 218 she needs to win if all House members are present and cast a valid vote, but some Democrats are likely to change their votes to support her at that point if the alternative is a Republican.
  • Steny Hoyer, 79, of Maryland, ran unopposed for majority leader, the second-ranking job, which is responsible for setting the voting schedule on the House Floor. Hoyer has good rapport with moderate Democrats, and he has been deployed to reach out to parts of the country that would be suspicious of more progressive party leaders.
  • Jim Clyburn, 78, of South Carolina, was unopposed to be majority whip, the No. 3 job with responsibility for counting votes and rallying support for the party’s priority legislation. Clyburn is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and will represent this group in the leadership ranks.
  • New Mexico’s Ben Ray Lujan, 46, ran unopposed for assistant Democratic leader. This position was created when Democrats lost the majority in 2010 to allow broader representation in party leadership. Lujan led the Democrats’ political committee and was credited with helping secure the party’s strong performance in the Nov. 6 election.
  • Jeffries, 48, of New York, will chair the Democratic Caucus, with responsibility for messaging strategy and structuring the party’s agenda. On a 123-113 vote, he defeated Barbara Lee, 72, of California, who like him is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

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