Editorial | Nancy gets the nod?

Editorial | Nancy gets the nod?

U.S. House Democrats have overwhelmingly chosen their longtime leader Nancy Pelosias their preferred choice for speaker. Buta small band of party dissenters say they'll continue to oppose her.

If circumstances go as expected, the new Democratic-controlled U.S. House that takes office in January will choose veteran lawmaker Nancy Pelosi to succeed outgoing Republican Speaker Paul Ryan.

Pelosi became her party's choice last week when 203 of the 235 Democrats elected in November backed the 78-year-old representative from California.

But while all Democrats are celebrating the party's return to a House majority, not all Democrats agree on who should be in charge.

Thirty-two Democrats voted against Pelosi, who ran unopposed for speaker, while another three returned blank ballots.

Here's the potential problem — Pelosi needs 218 votes to win on the House floor, and she's not there yet.

Will she get there? History suggests that she will.

A wily vote counter and strong leader, Pelosi used a combination of carrots and sticks to discourage active opposition to her in the party caucus. Now she'll have to do more of the same when the full House votes.

Strictly on the merits, Pelosi has won the right to resume her old job as Speaker. She masterminded — with a lot of help from President Donald Trump — the Democrats' big win on Nov. 6. Generally speaking, successful leaders continue to lead.

But there is a hard core of Democratic dissenters who argue the party leadership needs new and fresh blood.

Given the advanced ages of Democratic House leaders, they have a point. Not only is Pelosi 78, but her chief assistants, Steny Hoyer of Maryland and James Clyburn of South Carolina, are 79 and 78, respectively.

Since none of them has shown any inclination of stepping down, the fight — one-sided though it may appear now — is on.

In winning the nomination from the Democratic caucus, Pelosi skillfully reduced opposition to her by throwing some bones to the dissenters.

After hearing opposition from the Problem Solvers Caucus, Pelosi agreed to a series of rules changes that will make it easier for what are known as "consensus bills" — those with at least 290 co-sponsors — to get a vote on the House floor. She also agreed to modify rules in a way that eases legislative amendments to get votes in committee.

Those concessions, however, are not enough for legislators like U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice of New York, who insist that Pelosi make plans for a succession that lets rank-and-file members "know when the leadership is going to change."

Actually, Rice knows the answer to that question: She just doesn't like it. Pelosi intends to remain in the Speaker's chair as long as she is physically able. She didn't fight to win back control of the House so she could surrender the reins of power to another.

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