Pelosi on potential Fudge challenge: ‘Come on in’

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sought to tamp down suggestions that her speakership bid was in trouble Thursday, brushing off the threat of a potential challenge by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio).

In fact, the California Democrat seemed to invite the former Congressional Black Caucus chair to jump into the race.

“Come on in, the water’s warm,” she said.

Pelosi’s comments come just hours after her critics said they had 17 names on a document vowing to vote against her on the House floor. POLITICO has verified the signatures of 11 of those lawmakers or candidates-elect, but the group has not released the letter publicly.

Pelosi downplayed the significance of the letter in part because her critics have refused to release the letter at this time.

“Have you seen the letter?” she asked reporters.

Pelosi maintained confidence that she would win a speakership bid if the election were held today.

Continue reading “Pelosi on potential Fudge challenge: ‘Come on in’”

Pelosi swats at Moulton and guarantees she’ll be speaker

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi swiped at her critics Wednesday, vowing in no uncertain terms to vanquish her opponents and become speaker in the next Congress.

The California Democrat brushed aside Rep. Seth Moulton’s suggestion Tuesday night that he is “100 percent confident” that she does not have the votes to be speaker.

“I’m a busy person, but I will be the speaker of the House no matter what he said,” Pelosi told reporters as she exited a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday morning.

Pelosi is working behind the scenes to round up the 218 votes needed to be speaker while Moulton (D-Mass.) and other Pelosi critics try to win over potential skeptics. The critical vote on the House floor will take place Jan. 3.

Pelosi is deploying all her political power to lobby incoming lawmakers for support — tapping outside groups with deep pockets and Democratic leaders from John Continue reading “Pelosi swats at Moulton and guarantees she’ll be speaker”

Pelosi warns against ousting a woman

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Nancy Pelosi is making gender a central part of her bid to reclaim the speaker’s gavel — leaning hard into the pitch that Democrats cannot oust the only woman at their leadership table following a historic election for women.

In addition to arguing she’s the best qualified for the job, the California Democrat and her allies are also framing a Pelosi victory as a matter of protecting political progress for women at a critical moment. Push her out, and men may take over the party at a time when more than 100 women are heading to Capitol Hill and after women voters have been thoroughly alienated by President Donald Trump. Embrace her, and she’ll prioritize legislation empowering women from equal pay to anti-harassment legislation.

“I think it would look ridiculous if we win back the House… we have a pink wave with women who have brought back the House, then Continue reading “Pelosi warns against ousting a woman”

Pro-Pelosi group opposes effort to change rules over speaker nominee

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A group of Nancy Pelosi’s allies is fighting efforts to change House Democratic Caucus rules so that the California Democrat can’t return to the speaker’s chair.

The issue revolves around whether Pelosi will need 218 Democratic votes — or just a simple majority of Democrats, as the current caucus rule states — to be the party’s speaker nominee when the new Congress convenes on Jan. 3.

Anti-Pelosi forces led by Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) have asked to change Democratic Caucus rules to require the party’s nominee for speaker — which will almost certainly be Pelosi in this case — to get 218 Democratic votes in order to move forward. While Pelosi is not named in the motion, it is clearly aimed at her.

Pelosi’s allies are opposed to the rules change, arguing that it would "empower a small minority of Members to override Continue reading “Pro-Pelosi group opposes effort to change rules over speaker nominee”

McCarthy: ‘I had the votes the first day’ to be House minority leader

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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — with his party moving into the minority after the Democratic victory on Election Day — says he has already locked up the votes to become the top Republican in the next Congress.

McCarthy also predicted House Democrats would impeach President Donald Trump, and said that move would backfire and guarantee Trump’s reelection.

In his first interview since Tuesday’s drubbing — Democrats racked up their biggest House win since the Watergate scandal — McCarthy on Friday said the GOP will have to learn from its mistakes this past cycle. But he insisted that Republicans can get back in the majority in 2020, despite an unpopular, unpredictable president sitting in the Oval Office. And McCarthy asserted he is the right person to lead them there.

“I had the votes the first day,” McCarthy said of the race to become minority leader. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a Continue reading “McCarthy: ‘I had the votes the first day’ to be House minority leader”

Jeffries makes move for Democratic leadership position

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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is launching a bid to become House Democratic Caucus chair, a move his cheerleaders hope will position him to become the first black speaker one day should he win.

Multiple critics of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have been trying to get the Democrat from Brooklyn to challenge her for the job. Jeffries, while only 48 and just elected to his fourth term, is well liked in the Democratic caucus and is seen as a rising star.

But Jeffries’ declaration for the No. 4 position leaves Pelosi critics without a leader they believe they can win with. The group has been trying to find someone willing to challenge Pelosi but has thus far been unsuccessful.

Jeffries’ move is sure to shake up the caucus chair race. Current vice caucus chair Linda Sánchez is also trying to move up the ladder to claim the position. And Rep. Barbara Lee, Continue reading “Jeffries makes move for Democratic leadership position”

Pelosi looks to grind out bid for speaker

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Nancy Pelosi led her party to a historic victory on Election Day. And yet she still faces real hurdles to reclaiming the speaker’s chair after an eight-year absence.

It’s not like 2006, when Democrats won a House majority and Pelosi — at the height of her power — was clearly the driving force in that effort and glided into the speakership.

A cluster of Democratic candidates who vowed to either oppose her or had called for “new leadership,” won on Tuesday. And some of her critics inside the House Democratic Caucus have argued that it’s time for new blood to take the reins of the party and have already begun organizing to oust her.

So far, these disgruntled Democrats don’t have anyone to run against her, which makes it hard to see how they can block her return to power.

But Pelosi, who has led the caucus for 16 years, Continue reading “Pelosi looks to grind out bid for speaker”

House Dems ready to clash with Trump

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House Democrats were romping to victory in Tuesday’s midterm elections, in a stark repudiation of President Donald Trump that breaks the GOP stranglehold on power in Washington and immediately brings the question of impeachment into play next year.

The Democratic triumph could also propel Nancy Pelosi back to the speaker’s chair after eight years in the minority, a historic comeback that would add to the California Democrat’s already legendary career. It would make her the most important Democrat in the country — and favorite foil for Trump — until Democrats pick their 2020 presidential nominee.

Pelosi has not formally announced that she will run for speaker but is expected to do so on Wednesday. Pelosi will have to win over 218 Democrats to win the speaker’s gavel, which may not be easy, although her allies and aides are confident she will be able to do so.

Trump called Pelosi Tuesday Continue reading “House Dems ready to clash with Trump”

Black Caucus wants one of their own as speaker or majority leader

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In a move that could set off a nasty internal fight, the Congressional Black Caucus — a key voting bloc among House Democrats — is demanding that an African-American lawmaker hold one of the top two leadership posts if Democrats win the House on Election Day.

The CBC action is seen as a potential threat to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland who have been slotted to return as speaker and House majority leader, respectively, if Democrats gain the majority on Nov. 6.

Hoyer, especially, could be the one to face a potential challenger if the CBC backs up its threat, according to Democratic insiders.

“Over the past couple of weeks, several of our colleagues have respectfully shared letters of intent expressing interest in various House Democratic Caucus leadership positions,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), CBC chairman, in a new “Dear Continue reading “Black Caucus wants one of their own as speaker or majority leader”

House GOP probe of FBI and Justice heats up as election nears

Rep. Andy Biggs had had it.

Glenn Simpson, whose Fusion GPS firm had commissioned a report describing coordination between Donald Trump and Russia during the 2016 election campaign, showed up to a Tuesday deposition on Capitol Hill and refused to testify. Simpson had already signaled through his lawyer that he’d be invoking his Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions, a decision he made after multiple Republicans on the panel suggested on TV that he could be in legal trouble. But Biggs, one of the president’s staunchest defenders, decided to barrage him with questions anyway.

For 20 minutes, the freshman Arizona Republican peppered Simpson in search of details about his handling of the dossier. And for 20 minutes, Simpson repeatedly pleaded the Fifth, according to four sources briefed on the exchanges. Eventually, Biggs told Simpson that his claims of constitutional privilege could be deemed invalid and that Simpson could be Continue reading “House GOP probe of FBI and Justice heats up as election nears”

How Republicans could (barely) hang on to the House

Just about every poll predicts it won’t happen: Suburban voters are too fed up with Donald Trump, and Democrats too awash in cash, for Nancy Pelosi’s party not to seize the House on Nov. 6.

And yet House Republicans — and privately, even a few Democrats — say the GOP could still hang on, if only by a few seats. The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has given GOP voters a badly-needed enthusiasm boost, they argue, and several races seen as unwinnable just weeks ago are suddenly back within reach for Republicans.

Democrats, meanwhile, have retreated from several battlegrounds once considered prime targets. They’ve also deserted a Democratic-controlled open seat in Minnesota, creating a new, rare pick-up opportunity for Republicans in a cycle where they’ve consistently been on defense.

“The environment has significantly improved over the past few weeks,” said Corry Bliss, executive director of the GOP Continue reading “How Republicans could (barely) hang on to the House”

The other spending war: Appropriations race gets ugly

Senior House appropriator Kay Granger was furious.

As the fight over who will lead the House Appropriations Committee heated up, Rep. Tom Graves, a young, ambitious Georgia Republican, was once again using the majority leader’s office to court member support. Granger, a longtime appropriator also vying for the position, was seen as the favorite for the job — until Graves came along.

So at a meeting with Kevin McCarthy this summer, Granger, a Texas Republican, asked McCarthy to halt Graves’ use of his office in his bid to jump over her, a more seasoned member of the panel. Rank-and-file, after all, were whispering that Graves‘ use of McCarthy’s leadership conference rooms suggested a subtle endorsement from the California Republican.

“It’s very inappropriate,” Granger told McCarthy, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The race to head the powerful Appropriations panel next year is intensifying behind the scenes, as Graves, a Continue reading “The other spending war: Appropriations race gets ugly”

McCarthy woos Trump’s immigration populists

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has never been the darling of the right — far from it.

But as he seeks to replace Speaker Paul Ryan, the No. 2 House Republican is branding himself as an immigration hard-liner in the mold of President Donald Trump, wooing conservatives who might otherwise oppose his ascension to lead the conference next year.

And conservatives are taking note.

Several who’ve previously agitated against GOP leaders are praising the California Republican’s new bill fully funding President Donald Trump’s $25 billion border wall with Mexico, a key White House priority. That comes just a couple of weeks after McCarthy pushed for a House vote on his resolution rejecting the idea of allowing undocumented immigrants the right to vote.

Particularly noteworthy: Both announcements were given as exclusives to Breitbart. The Trump-supporting website has long torched GOP leadership, which includes McCarthy, for not doing enough to crack down Continue reading “McCarthy woos Trump’s immigration populists”

House Republicans distort and dissemble in slashing TV ads

Democratic House candidate Jason Crow received a Bronze Star for heroism in Iraq and a “lawyer of the year” award for his veterans advocacy. But according to his GOP adversaries, he has “neglected” Colorado veterans.

Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger spent nearly a decade fighting terrorists as an undercover CIA officer. But to hear Republicans tell it, she harbors terrorist sympathies.

Attacks ads have always been a staple of campaign season. But Republicans have twisted facts in some ads to an extraordinary degree as they fight to save their House majority, weaving narratives about Democratic candidates that are misleading at best — or blatantly false at worst.

In several ads, military vets — who count as some of Democrats’ best recruits to defeat sitting Republicans this year — have had their patriotism called into question. One spot insinuates that Spanberger, who is challenging Rep. Dave Brat’s (R-Va.), has ties to Continue reading “House Republicans distort and dissemble in slashing TV ads”

DCCC chair: 60 Dem House candidates raised over $1 million in third quarter

Sixty House Democratic candidates broke the $1 million mark in fundraising from July through September, a whopping total fueling the party’s campaign to retake the House in November.

Thirty of those candidates exceeded $2 million raised last quarter, while eight of them brought in more than $3 million over that period. Three of those $3 million candidates have already announced their third-quarter fundraising: Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot who’s challenging Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.); Josh Harder, a venture capitalist challenging Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.); and Andrew Janz, an attorney running against Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan previewed the fundraising numbers at a Bloomberg breakfast event with reporters on Thursday, calling the Democrats’ numbers “unprecedented.”

“The fundraising success we’re seeing with our candidates – especially with the unlimited amounts of money coming from the outside – puts them in Continue reading “DCCC chair: 60 Dem House candidates raised over $1 million in third quarter”

The double lives of vulnerable House Republicans

Vulnerable House Republicans have to lead double lives these days if they hope to hang on.

Take Dave Brat. At a private fundraiser in early September, the Virginia Republican joked to a roomful of Republicans about how he mimics archconservative House Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan on Fox News when discussing the FBI’s Russia investigation. He then encouraged Sebastian Gorka, a controversial former adviser to President Donald Trump, to get involved in Brat’s campaign to gin up the base, according to a recording of the private event obtained by POLITICO.

But in TV ads, Brat has touted his work on issues that transcend party lines. One of them features images of puppies playing with children, and a narrator touting the congressman’s work “to stop a federal agency from conducting cruel medical research on dogs.”

The two sides of Brat, a member of the Freedom Caucus, highlight the dissonant strategies Continue reading “The double lives of vulnerable House Republicans”

For female Republicans, party loyalty trumps #MeToo

Sen. Joni Ernst was rushing through a nearly vacant Senate walkway Thursday morning as Christine Blasey Ford was recounting in gripping detail the assault she said she suffered at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh three decades ago.

Asked if she was planning to watch Ford’s testimony, Ernst said no. “I trust Senator Grassley,” she said, referring to her fellow Republican senator from Iowa, who was presiding over the Judiciary Committee hearing.

But a few hours later, Ernst showed up in the hearing room to watch Grassley and his all-male Republican panel hear Kavanaugh describe the “ordeal” he’d been through in recent weeks.

“I have been a supporter of the MeToo movement,” Ernst told Iowa reporters on a conference call that day. “But these are very difficult situations that happen…. And sometimes they can’t be corroborated.”

It turns out that party loyalty still trumps the #metoo movement, at least for Continue reading “For female Republicans, party loyalty trumps #MeToo”

Pelosi gains ground in bid to become speaker

An effort by some House Democrats to slow down House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s possible return to the speaker’s chair fizzled out Wednesday, leaving the California Democrat free to pursue a historic comeback if her party wins a majority on Election Day.

House Democrats also moved the date of their leadership elections up by a week, another move that likely helps Pelosi’s cause. The rescheduling will help align those proceedings with orientation for new members.

Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) had been pushing a proposal to require at least 218 Democrats to support the party’s speaker nominee inside the caucus, provided Democrats have a majority. That threshold would be impossibly high for Pelosi or anyone else to meet, and would essentially allow a minority of Democrats, in a secret vote, to effectively hold veto power over their party’s choice for speaker.

The Democratic candidate Continue reading “Pelosi gains ground in bid to become speaker”

Democrats in the dark on eve of historic Kavanaugh hearing

Tens of millions of people will be watching Christine Blasey Ford when she appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a potentially history-shaping hearing on Thursday.

Yet Ford has had no apparent contact with the people who could help her most through the ordeal: Senate Democrats.

Though Ford’s lawyers have been in touch with aides in both parties, interviews with more than a half-dozen Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee indicate there’s been no coordination with Ford’s camp in the run-up to the hearing.

That lack of communication underscores the political minefield both Democrats and the 51-year-old college professor are crossing ahead of the hearing, with President Donald Trump and the GOP tarring the minority for a “smear campaign” against Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court pick. Ford has a team of well-connected attorneys with Democratic ties to lean on — as well as a veteran Democratic strategist — but Democratic Continue reading “Democrats in the dark on eve of historic Kavanaugh hearing”

House conservatives threaten Rosenstein impeachment vote

President Donald Trump’s top allies in Congress say they’ll force a vote on impeaching Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein if he refuses to testify this week about reports that he sought to secretly record the president after FBI Director James Comey’s firing last year.

"I do not believe doing nothing is okay when the guy who runs DOJ makes comments about taping the commander-in-chief," Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said in an interview. "No matter what the context, it requires further investigation. The Judiciary Committee has an obligation to investigate."

Trump’s top conservative allies are ratcheting up pressure on House leaders to force a hearing. They’ve been privately pressing Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to arrange a public session with Rosenstein as quickly as possible. Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have reached out to Goodlatte repeatedly to attempt to Continue reading “House conservatives threaten Rosenstein impeachment vote”