House

Luján will have ‘assistant Speaker’ title

Greg Nash

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 Pelosi (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.

{mosads}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 Becerra (D-Calif.) as “assistant to the Speaker,” and then-Rep. Chris Van Hollen (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 Hoyer (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 Jeffries (D-N.Y.),  the new Caucus chairman; Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Cedric Richmond (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.

Tags Cedric Richmond Chris Van Hollen Hakeem Jeffries House Democratic Caucus Marcia Fudge Nancy Pelosi Steny Hoyer Xavier Becerra
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