In a setback to the efforts of congressional Republicans eager to sow chaos within the new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, congressman Jim Clyburn made it clear this week he has no intention of challenging uber-liberal Californian Nancy Pelosi for the job of speaker of the House.
Instead, Clyburn will seek the post of majority whip – a position he held from 2007-2011.
That is the No. 3 leadership position in the House – behind the speaker and the majority leader, an office which is being sought by Pelosi’s longtime No. 2 Steny Hoyer of Maryland.
“We will stop the assault on our democratic norms, our institutions and the rule of law,” Clyburn wrote in announcing his candidacy for the job. “We will faithfully execute our Constitutional duties and restore the system of checks and balances that the Founders designed and that our Republic requires.”
Frankly, that strikes us as ominous language from a guy who once argued America needed to “rethink the parameters of the First Amendment.”
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There had been considerable speculation as to whether Clyburn might challenge Pelosi for the job, and it appeared for awhile as thought the congressional black caucus would wield its influence to see that he got it.
“You cannot get to 218 (votes) to be speaker without the Black Caucus,” U.S. congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana told reporters Emma Dumain and William Douglas of McClatchy back in August. “If we hold, you cannot get the speakership without us. I’m just doing math right now, you can’t get there without the Black Caucus.”
Apparently a deal was cut …
Just because Clyburn is not challenging Pelosi (or Hoyer, for that matter) does not mean the GOP cannot still create some potential turbulence for the new majority party.
Numerous incoming Democrats – including Clyburn’s future delegation-mate, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina – openly opposed Pelosi on the campaign trail. In fact, many pledged they would not vote for her as speaker – ever.
Will they honor these pledges?
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“We don’t want to be disrespectful to anyone who served, particularly a woman who’s broken glass ceilings like Nancy Pelosi,” Elissa Slotkin told The Washington Post earlier this week. “But we need to hear what people are telling us, and they’re saying on both sides of the aisle they want a new generation of leadership.”
Slotkin defeated incumbent Republican Mike Bishop in the race for Michigan’s eighth congressional district this week.
As of this writing, Democrats have claimed 223 seats in the U.S. House – five more than the 218 they needed for a majority – while Republicans control 197 seats. Another fifteen races have yet to be called.
If young lawmakers like Cunningham, Spanberger and Slotkin refuse to back Pelosi, it could potentially give the GOP an opening to try and block her ascension to this post.
Stay tuned …
Divided government is back in Washington, D.C., and the new majority party in the U.S. House is dealing with deep divisions inside its own caucus as it prepares to engage U.S. president Donald Trump – who is clearly spoiling for a fight.
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