Rep. Ben Ray Luján's (D-N.M.) new title in the next Congress will be "assistant Speaker" instead of "assistant majority leader," House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMan who threatened to kill Ocasio-Cortez, Pelosi pleads guilty to federal charges The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems look to repackage BBB into salvageable bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden clarifies his remarks on Russia MORE (D-Calif.) told rank-and-file members in a closed-door caucus meeting Tuesday, multiple sources in the room told The Hill.
Luján, a staunch Pelosi ally, just came off a successful stint as House Democrats' campaign chairman in the 2018 midterms, where the party picked at least 40 seats to win back the majority in the lower chamber.
In the meeting, Pelosi made a motion that the change in title be approved by House Democrats by a voice vote, sources said. The motion passed unanimously.
Luján, 46, was elected by his Democratic colleagues last month to be “assistant Democratic leader.” He ran unopposed, and will continue to hold the No. 4-ranked spot in Democratic leadership.
Pelosi created the job the last time Democrats won back the majority, in 2006, as part of a plan to give young rising stars in the party a seat at the leadership table. She named then-Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta Democrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit Overnight Health Care — Insurance will soon cover COVID-19 tests MORE (D-Calif.) as “assistant to the Speaker,” and then-Rep. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Former Maryland rep announces bid for old House seat MORE (D-Md.) moved into the role a couple years later.
When Democrats lost the majority in 2010, Pelosi allowed Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) to fill the role of “assistant Democratic leader” or “assistant minority leader” in order to keep his spot on the leadership team.
But Democrats got an additional leadership spot, the Speaker, after taking back the majority last month. Democrats nominated Pelosi to return to the Speaker’s office, and they elected Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi says she's open to stock trading ban for Congress Former Maryland rep announces bid for old House seat Fury over voting rights fight turns personal on Capitol Hill MORE (D-Md.) to be majority leader; Clyburn to be majority whip; and Luján to be assistant Democratic leader.
Pelosi, who served as Speaker from 2007 to 2011, is now trying to put down an insurrection in her caucus and secure the 218 votes on the House floor she needs to secure the Speaker’s gavel once again. That vote will be held on Jan. 3.
Leadership aides confirmed that Pelosi had sought to change Luján's title, but downplayed the move as insignificant.
“It’s just a simple matter of harmonizing the rules to reflect that we are in the majority,” a Democratic leadership aide said.
Other Democrats in the room, however, saw Pelosi’s action as a way to give a leg up to Luján to succeed her as Speaker after she eventually retires. Other younger leaders who’ve also been floated as future Speakers include Reps. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesWATCH: The Hill recaps the top stories of the week Fury over voting rights fight turns personal on Capitol Hill Senate GOP blocks election bill, setting up filibuster face-off MORE (D-N.Y.), the new Caucus chairman; Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks Buttigieg has high name recognition, favorability rating in Biden Cabinet: survey Biden, top officials spread out to promote infrastructure package MORE (D-Ohio) and Cedric RichmondCedric RichmondBiden should seek some ideological diversity Biden says 'consumer spending has recovered' to pre-pandemic levels Build Back Better is a 21st century New Deal MORE (D-La.).
Asked if the new title helps position Luján for a future Speaker’s bid, one Democratic lawmaker replied: “Sounds like it.”
--Updated at 11:35 a.m.