Nancy Pelosi was narrowly re-elected president on Sunday, giving her the reins of the slim Democratic majority in the House as she and President-elect Joe Biden put in place a difficult process of producing laws for fight the pandemic, revive the economy and respond to the priorities of other parties.
“We accept a responsibility as formidable and demanding as any that previous generations of leaders have faced,” the California Democrat told the chamber as she accepted a new two-year term in office, perhaps the last. Citing the 350,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19 and the millions of people who have lost their jobs and livelihoods, she received a standing ovation when she said: “Our most urgent priority will continue to be to defeat the coronavirus . And win, we will.
Yet even before House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of R-California ceremonially handed him the speaker’s gavel – an normally brilliant moment – he brutally recalled the partisan divide of Congress.
McCarthy accused Pelosi of leading “the least productive Congress in almost 50 years” over the past two years and said there was a clear message in the election last November, when Republicans won elections. seats by beating a dozen Democratic candidates. “It was a wake-up call,” he says. “My question to this majority: were you listening?”
These are claims Democrats strongly dispute, saying it was Republicans, especially in the GOP-led Senate, who blocked progress on pandemic aid and other issues.
Pelosi, who has led her party in the House since 2003 and is the only woman to be president, received 216 votes to 209 for McCarthy, who will again be the House Minority Leader.
It was the first vote of the new Congress, which met on Sunday with COVID-19 guidelines requiring tests and masks for lawmakers. There was widespread mask-wearing and far fewer lawmakers and guests in the chamber than usual, an unimaginable picture when the last Congress began two years ago, before the pandemic hit.
Pelosi’s election took place 17 days before Biden’s inauguration. Yet rather than a fresh start for him and Pelosi, there are issues and undercurrents that will spill over into President Donald Trump’s tumultuous administration.
Although Congress enacted – and Trump ultimately signed – a $ 900 billion COVID-19 relief package late last month, Biden and many Democrats say they view the move as a down payment. They say more help is needed to bolster efforts to immunize the public, fight the virus and restore jobs and businesses lost to the pandemic.
Biden’s priorities also include efforts on healthcare and the environment.
Guiding such legislation through the House will be a challenge for Pelosi, as his party’s slim majority means that only a handful of deserters could be fatal.
Additionally, cooperation with Republicans could be made more difficult as many GOP members continue to demonstrate loyalty to the divisive Trump, supporting his baseless claims that his loss to re-election was tainted with fraud. Congress will meet on Wednesday to formally affirm Biden’s clear Electoral College victory over Trump. Many Republicans in the House and Senate say they will challenge the validity of some of these votes, but their efforts will certainly fail.
There was no widespread election fraud, which several election officials across the country, including former Trump attorney general William Barr, have confirmed. The Republican governors of Arizona and Georgia, key battlefield states critical to Biden’s victory, have also vouched for the integrity of the elections in their states. Almost all of the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two dismissed by the Supreme Court, which includes three judges appointed by Trump.
All eyes on Georgia
In another hurdle for Democrats, it’s unclear which party will control the Senate. Republicans will control it unless Democrats win both Senate polls in Georgia on Tuesday.
To win, Pelosi had to overcome some Democratic grunts about his longevity, a slim 222-211 advantage over Republicans after the November election, and a handful of absences due to the coronavirus. There were two vacant seats in the 435-member House, and no matter what, Democrats will have the smallest majority in the House in two decades.
With little room for error, Pelosi suffered only a handful of Democratic defections in her last demonstration of her ability to line up support, and no opponent challenged her for the job. She received applause from Democrats for leading their opposition to President Donald Trump, largely keeping moderates and progressives in her party united and raising mountains of funds for the campaign.
“She got a finger in the dyke and a finger in Donald Trump’s eye,” said Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va.
But she’s 80, and the ambitious young members continue to fret at the long-standing hold she and other older senior leaders have had over their work. Democrats were also angry after an election day many believed would mean additional House seats for the party, but instead saw a dozen incumbents lose, without defeating a single GOP representative.
In the end, Rep. Jared Golden, D-Me., Voted for Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth from Illinois – the Constitution does not require the speaker to be a member of the House. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa., Voted Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., who is considered a strong candidate to succeed Pelosi whenever she resigns.
Three Democrats who opposed Pelosi’s election as president two years ago voted in attendance Sunday – Representatives Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, and five others who opposed to her in 2019 support her this time. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., Who has battled cancer, missed the vote.
Democrats gave Pelosi a standing ovation as the final tally was announced, while the Republican side of the chamber was nearly empty. The vote lasted over two and a half hours, an unusually long time as lawmakers were divided into groups to reduce health risks.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., a progressive leader, supported Pelosi and told reporters democratic unity is important “at a time when the Republican Party is attempting an electoral coup.” She spoke of the support many Republicans in Congress have for incumbent President Donald Trump’s baseless efforts to reverse election results.
Ocasio-Cortez said she and other progressives “had conversations and negotiations” with Pelosi, but did not describe what they had accomplished.
With every paid vote, workers had built an enclosure in a balcony overlooking the House chamber so lawmakers exposed or tested positive for the coronavirus could vote more safely.
In the House, a race in New York is still being decided and there is a vacancy in Louisiana after GOP elected representative Luke Letlow, 41, died after contracting COVID-19.
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