House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi delayed this week’s planned vote on a leadership team until Nov. 30 amid disarray over the party’s worse-than-expected election results.
Pelosi informed fellow Democrats of the delay during a private meeting Tuesday in Washington. The vote had been set for Thursday, though Pelosi had previously backed Nov. 30 as an election date.
Pelosi of California told reporters the decision to return the vote to the end of the month “doesn’t mean very much” and will give lawmakers more time to consider issues. Several lawmakers said they don’t think her leadership position is in danger.
House Democratic leaders had faced pressure to delay plans to elect party leaders for the next session of Congress after the party saw ballot-box losses last week that resulted in the loss of the presidency and left Republicans in control of the Senate and House.
Pushing the date back gives potential Pelosi challengers or candidates for other posts time to campaign among their colleagues.
Representative G.K. Butterfield, a North Carolina Democrat, told reporters after the meeting that he doesn’t think Pelosi is at risk and noted no one has yet formally announced plans to oppose her. “Ms. Pelosi enjoys great support in the caucus and this doesn’t reflect on her,” he said.
Butterfield, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the delay reflects how Democrats are reeling after the election.
“We got a shellacking,” he said. “It’s just like after a death, there are different stages of grief you go through.”
Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York said Democrats are still digesting the results of last week’s elections and President-elect Donald Trump’s rise.
“We’re trying to figure out how 17 different polling companies got it totally wrong,” Slaughter said. “I have no criticism of the leadership. I think what everyone wanted was to have a chance to vent.”
One lawmaker, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, is considering a bid to challenge Pelosi as minority leader, his office said Monday. Others have been making initial calls to colleagues, say several members, asking not to be identified, but none have yet declared for certain they are challenging her.
“We’re all re-evaluating right now,” Ryan said Tuesday. “My goal was to extend this. We got our butts kicked and we need to move this forward.” He said Democrats need a leadership team that can go into Southern states and Midwestern states and bring working-class voters back to the Democratic Party.
Ohio Democrat Marcy Kaptur said she would consider a challenger to Pelosi, adding that Democrats have lost touch with voter sentiment about free trade.
“If someone from our region entered the race, I would have to reconsider,” she said.
Trump “came from a different place, but the workers and citizens of our regions heard him. Congress has been comatose on this issue for over three decades,” she said. “Democrats need to meet the president-elect halfway.”
Rep. Adam Schiff of California said Democrats are bruised over the election result and need to give far stronger emphasis to economic issues.
“We won the popular vote but we lost what really mattered, places like the Rust Belt where people are feeling a lot of economic pain. We need to speak more about the economic crunches that people are facing and what our solutions are,” he said.
(c) 2016, Bloomberg · Laura Litvan