Key Dem, in reversal, will back Pelosi

Key Dem, in reversal, will back Pelosi
© Stefani Reynolds

Rep. Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchLawmakers blast Wells Fargo chief over response to scandals Justin Amash is the unlikely GOP hero of Cohen hearing Five takeaways from the latest fundraising reports in the lead-up to 2020 MORE (D-Mass.) said Thursday he’s now likely to support Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change 2020 Dems avoid this year's AIPAC conference MORE (D-Calif.) for Speaker, just over a week after he signed a letter designed to block the longtime Democratic leader from taking the gavel next year.

“We’re pretty much there,” Lynch told The Hill Thursday morning in the Capitol. “Some details need to be cleared up, but I think that we’re in a good place. And I think she would agree with that.”

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Asked if he’s leaning toward supporting her, Lynch said, “Yeah, I am. That’s fair.”

Lynch was one of the 16 Democrats to sign a Nov. 19 letter designed to demonstrate that Pelosi lacks the 218 votes she needs to win the Speaker’s gavel on the House floor on Jan. 3.

Lynch huddled with Pelosi on Wednesday, where the pair discussed Lynch’s legislative priorities for the next Congress, including efforts to boost infrastructure spending, and protect union pensions and health care plans.

“We had a great conversation and my goal is to get reassurances that we were going to adopt an agenda that would focus more intently on regular working families,” Lynch said. “And it seems that on a number of those issues, we’re aligned.”

The news that Lynch was wavering in his opposition to Pelosi was first reported by Politico on Wednesday.

Lynch was one of just 34 House Democrats to vote in 2010 against the Affordable Care Act, a monumental health care law championed by Pelosi. Lynch, a former ironworker and union president, said his opposition hinged on the inclusion of a tax hike on high-cost insurance plans, including many offered by unions. Congress has delayed that provision, known as the Cadillac tax, until 2020. Lynch is seeking assurances it never takes effect.

“Pension reform is a big issue for our folks, as well as this potential tax on union health care benefits, which was included in the Affordable Care Act, which is why I voted against it,” he said.

Lynch, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he’s also looking to “re-empower” that panel after two years of the Trump administration, during which Republican leaders did very little to examine the many controversies swirling around the White House.

And she was all for that,” Lynch said. “So we had a great conversation, and I think we’re closer to each other now, our positions. I think they’re fairly clear.

“She has some great ideas about what our priorities would be,” he added. “So I told her that while I was opposed to her initially, our positions are more in harmony now.”

Lynch said the talks with Pelosi will continue, as he seeks “some assignments … with respect to pension reform and infrastructure that I’m interested in.”

“She was accommodative with respect to those as well,” he said. “So I think we’re in a good place.”

Pelosi has been working methodically to pick off her detractors, offering various enticements to win them to her side. Rep. Brian HigginsBrian HigginsKoch-backed group pushes for new limits on Trump's tariff authority Dems offer smaller step toward ‘Medicare for all' Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Powerful House committee turns to drug pricing | Utah governor defies voters on Medicaid expansion | Dems want answers on controversial new opioid MORE (D-N.Y.), another endorser of the insurgents’ letter, is now also backing Pelosi, after she offered to prioritize infrastructure and Medicare legislation that are high on Higgins’ wish-list.

Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeCongressional Black Caucus faces tough decision on Harris, Booker Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to step down as CBC Foundation chair amid lawsuit Reporter says to expect Capitol Hill to take action on North Carolina's 9th District MORE (D-Ohio), another early Pelosi critic, also reversed course when Pelosi offered to resurrect a defunct voting rights committee — and give Fudge the gavel.

Several other Democrats, though, have jumped onto the insurgents’ side in recent days. Rep.-elect Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.) signed onto the anti-Pelosi letter on Monday. And Rep. Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindThe fear of colorectal cancer as a springboard for change The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Democrats, Trump battle over 75 'pivot' counties in Midwest MORE (D-Wis.) told The Hill that he’ll be opposing Pelosi in the Jan. 3 Speaker vote.

“I’ve been consistent in saying we’re in desperate need of new leadership on both sides, as we move forward in the new Congress,” Kind said late Wednesday.