Dems stick with Pelosi as leader

Dems stick with Pelosi as leader
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House Democrats on Tuesday elected Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her top four lieutenants to remain atop the party in the 114th Congress.

The move was hardly a surprise, as none of the current leaders — including Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), Assistant Leader Jim Clyburn (S.C.), Caucus Chairman Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraCalifornia to sue Trump over border wall emergency declaration Overnight Energy: Court rules for Trump in environmental case over border wall | House bill would stop Alaska refuge drilling | Ads target Dems over Green New Deal Appeals court sides with Trump in border wall prototype dispute MORE (Calif.) and Vice Chairman Joe Crowley (N.Y.) — faced challengers in their bids to lead the party for the next two years.

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But the leadership votes came amid some grumbling from rank-and-file members that the Democrats need a new direction after failing to take the House majority in three straight election cycles. In two of those cycles, 2010 and 2014, they were clobbered.

Pelosi and Hoyer have been in the top spots since 2003, fueling anxiety among a younger crop of Democrats who aren’t able to move up.

The lack of space on the leadership ladder has led Pelosi to carve out new positions to reward loyal members with no place to land.

Clyburn's post was created after the 2010 elections rout pushed the Democrats into the minority. And for the 114th Congress, Pelosi has tapped Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), who led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for the last four years, to a new policy and communications post, where he'll work closely with the Steering and Policy Committee on messaging.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) had pushed this month for a delay in the leadership elections to allow members to digest the election results and "take inventory" about where the party is headed.

"It's time to take a deep breath in our party, and I would not be so anxious to take a vote and get it over with [this month]. I think that would be a big, big mistake," Pascrell said just after the midterms. "If you've got to come back in December, so be it."

Instead, Pelosi and other top leaders pushed forward with Tuesday's elections.

The vote took place Tuesday morning during the first hour of a closed-door meeting of the Democratic Caucus in the Capitol. 

Pelosi was nominated by fellow California Rep. Eric Swalwell, who praised her as someone who unites the caucus.

"Nancy listens and she builds consensus among our members," Swalwell said, according to an aide in the room.

Pelosi’s nomination was backed by three other members, Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyDem rep says lower tax refunds are 'bad news' for the economy Dem rep says refunds are low because GOP tax policy doesn't benefit most Americans House Dems worry about lack of women of color in leadership MORE (D-Ohio). 

Those members highlight the Democrats' diversity, as Schakowsky is a member of the Progressive Caucus, Velázquez is part of the Hispanic Caucus and Beatty is a member of the Black Caucus.

"No one has worked harder to be inclusive. As a woman and a Latina, I thank you for that," Velázquez said, according to the aide. "She understands our power is our diversity."

Speaking after the vote, Pelosi praised her troops for being "the strongest team on the field," according to the aide, and emphasized the need to focus on bread-and-butter issues important to the middle class.

The caucus, the aide said, then gave her a standing ovation.

— This story was last updated at 11:23 a.m.