Republicans are within striking distance of taking back the majority in the House of Representatives. Nancy Pelosi was re-elected Speaker of the House by the skin of her teeth on Sunday when the 117th Congress convened. Pelosi won the votes of 216 Democrats, two votes more than the threshold of 214 votes that she needed. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy received 209 votes from Republicans.
In order to win re-election, Pelosi had to do some maneuvering, including changing procedures. Three members who are in “quarantine status” were allowed to vote behind plexiglass, highlighting just how close the vote was expected to be.
In a striking symbol of how the virus complicated proceedings, a special section of the House chamber was enclosed in plexiglass so three lawmakers who are in “quarantine status” would be able to vote. Dr. Brian Monahan, Congress’ attending physician, said the “highest possible safeguards have been implemented including separate, enhanced ventilation in this space and separate holding facilities for any Members utilizing” the separate space. Members using the space were required to have tested negative for the virus.
Not one Republican lost his or her House race in 2020. Pelosi’s Democrat majority is so narrow now that she cannot afford to lose any Democrat votes when she brings up legislation for votes. If she does find herself short of Democrat support, she will have to turn to McCarthy and the Republicans in a bi-partisan fashion and we know she isn’t keen to do that in the current hyper-partisan political atmosphere. Remember, she is the one who rammed through Obamacare on a purely partisan vote and was perfectly fine with that. In fact, she boasted about it at the time.
Democrats were crushed in down-ballot races in November. Republican voters who decided to not vote for Trump in 2020 did vote for other Republicans in down-ballot races. It is especially noteworthy that so many Republican women won congressional races. Democrats like to preen about the number of women in their caucus but the story of the 2020 election is that it was the year of the Republican woman. In order to squash the minority rights of Republicans in the House, Pelosi has taken away the “Motion to Recommit” on the House floor. Republicans will not be allowed to offer up amendments to legislation using the traditional procedure. Pelosi is in full authoritarian mode in order to hold on to power.
Pelosi and the Democrats are beclowning themselves in their panic to hold the majority in the House. The gender-neutral mandate in the written words of legislation alone is enough to turn off any sane suburban voter. It’s a huge pander to Pelosi’s far-left members and this kind of nonsense will backfire in 2022. That is what Republicans are banking on, anyway. Pelosi will only get more desperate as her two-year term proceeds. We can only imagine how crazy things will get in the House.
With a thin majority in the House, it is more important than ever for Republicans to hold the Senate. Democrat control of the House, the Senate, and the White House will be Obama’s first term all over again. We got Obamacare from those years. Just think of the liberal wish list that is on the table in the Biden/Harris administration. Looking ahead and not wasting any time, a GOP Super PAC is launching a digital ad campaign against 21 Democrats who voted in favor of Pelosi’s speakership. One of the 21 districts targeted is that of Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Democrat from Illinois. Since 2019, she has been the Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The Congressional Leadership Fund, the House GOP super PAC, has released an ad targeting Bustos today.
Republicans are pouncing, so to speak, and wasting no time in the campaign to take back the House in 2022.
Speculation has already begun on whether or not Pelosi will last for her full two-year term. At age 80, she has pledged that this will be her last term as Speaker. Those who think she may step down before her term ends are looking at the 2022 elections and thinking that she might not want to be the Speaker who shepherds in another Republican blowout as she did in 2010. She has the smallest Democrat majority since the 1940s. The 2010 election brought about the highest losses by a party in a House midterm election since 1938. It was the largest House swing since 1948. Republicans made their largest gain in House seats since 1938. For Republicans, it was a great moment in history. Does Pelosi want to potentially go through that humiliation again in 2022 as she is on her way out?
Pelosi will do her best to ramrod through all of Biden’s agenda that she can in the next twelve months. She is also likely grooming her successor. Insiders in Washington are pointing to Karen Bass of California, Hakeem Jeffries of New York or Adam Schiff of California as the members at the top of her list. My money is on Hakeem Jeffries. He’s youngish (50 years old), would be the first black Speaker of the House, and has been a loyalist to Pelosi. His profile has risen over the last couple of years as he appears regularly on cable news shows delivering the day’s Democrat talking points. He guaranteed that Pelosi would be re-elected as Speaker over the past weekend.
A part of me refuses to believe that Pelosi would step down. She’s too vain for that and relishes her powerful position too much. I think she would have to be taken out feet first from the job but a lot has to do with how much success she can garner over the next twelve months. In the meantime, the GOP Super Pac will run its ads against vulnerable Democrats and work for a Republican majority in 2022. The Congressional Leadership Fund has a winning track record. Let’s hope it continues.