House Dems reelect Pelosi as leader

House Democrats will go into the 113th Congress with their leadership team largely unchanged after rank-and file members voted Thursday to keep Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and her top lieutenants at the head of the party.

The elections were largely a technicality and Pelosi and the other leaders were all chosen by "unanimously by acclamation," according to Democratic leadership aides, indicating there was a voice vote rather than a roll-call tally.

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Heading into the vote, several conservative-leaning Blue Dog Democrats – including Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah) and John Barrow (Ga.) – had indicated they would oppose the liberal Pelosi for the minority leader position. But the voice vote meant their opposition was not officially recorded.

Pelosi had all but secured the top Democrat spot earlier this month in announcing her intention to remain in the leadership next year.

That move all but guaranteed that the other top House Democrats – Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Assistant Leader Jim Clyburn (S.C.) – would also keep their leadership posts next year. 

Two years ago – after Democrats lost 63 seats and the House majority – Pelosi had stirred a minor controversy when she said she was staying on as party leader. In protest, Blue Dog Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) had challenged Pelosi, but lost badly in the liberal Caucus by a vote of 150-43.

This time around, with the Blue Dogs even fewer in numbers, there was no challenge to Pelosi or any other of the top Democrats.

Securing the number-four leadership spot was Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), the current vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus who will replace Rep. John Larson (Conn.) as chairman. Larson has spent four years atop the Caucus, and was term-limited out of that spot next year.

Becerra will be replaced by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), a New Democrat who'd lost a contest for vice chairman to Larson in 2006. Crowley had been challenged by Reps. Jared Polis (Colo.) and Barbara Lee (Calif.), both of whom dropped out of the running prior to Thursday's official votes.

House Democrats also secured several committee leadership positions on Thursday. 

As expected, Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.) will remain head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the next Congress; Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) will keep his ranking member seat on the Budget Committee; Rep. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.) will be the top Democrat on the Rules Committee; and Rep. Robert Brady (Pa.) will return as the ranking member of the House Administration panel.

Votes for the top Democratic seats on the remaining committees are tentatively slated for Friday, according to Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who's vying to become ranking member of the powerful Appropriations panel.