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Legislative Updates

House Democratic Leadership in 116th Congress

The midterm elections have brought a change in leadership for the House of Representatives. Democrats will now control the lower chamber for the first time in eight years and are set to elect their party leadership when Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess. Here is a glance into how leadership elections are looking for House Democrats.

With the change of party control, the Speakership will move to Democrats who are most likely to elect current House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

For Speaker of the House, current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is so far the only Democrat to have announced a bid for speaker. She previously served in the position from 2007-2011, when Democrats last held the House. In order to secure the Speakership, Leader Pelosi will need the support of 218 Democrats on the floor when the members elect a new speaker on January 3, 2019. While there is no formal announced opposition, there are reportedly 20 Democratic incumbents and newly-elected members who signed a letter vowing to vote against Pelosi.

The Speaker of the House is a powerful position as the de facto leader of the majority party as well the chamber’s administrative head. Like the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House is responsible for advancing House legislation and has the power to determine the vast majority of which bills will proceed to the floor for a full vote.

As of press, the only declared candidate for House Majority Leader is the current House Democratic Whip, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD). He previously held the position from 2007-2011. The House Majority Leader is the second in leadership, helps to plan daily, weekly, and annual legislative agendas, and, in general, works to advance the goals of the majority party.

With Rep. Hoyer vying for Majority Leader, his position of Democratic Whip is up for grabs and currently between Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO). Rep. Clyburn is currently the assistant Democratic leader, while Rep. DeGette is currently the chief deputy whip. As whip, whoever prevails will be in charge of persuading members to support the Caucus position on votes and projecting support for the Caucus position.

Assistant Majority Leader is also a two-way race between two strong candidates: Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), current co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, and Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), outoging chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The Assistant Majority Leader will work in conjunction with the Majority Leader to determine agendas and advance their stated goals.

The current Chair of the Democratic Caucus, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), lost his Democratic primary in June and consequently will need to relinquish his post at the end of his term. The two candidates running to replace him are Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who ran for caucus vice chairwoman two years ago and lost by two votes, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who is currently one of three co-chairs of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.

Democratic Caucus Vice Chair is up between Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and recruitment vice chairwoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA), a member of the New Democrat Coalition and a whip for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chair is a four-way race between: Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA), Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), and Rep. Sen Patrick Maloney (D-NY).

The Democratic Policy and Communications Committee leadership is split between three co-chairs, of which there are currently five candidates: Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA).

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