Pelosi claims she has enough votes to become speaker
Democrats won the majority. Now they just need a speaker of the House.
The standoff over Nancy Pelosi's bid to regain the gavel intensified as Democrats left Washington for the Thanksgiving break in what has turned out to be an unsettling finish to an otherwise triumphant week that saw them welcome a historic class of newcomers to Capitol Hill and prepare to take control from Republicans.
"I have overwhelming support in my caucus to be speaker of the House," Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press briefing. "I happen to think at this point, I'm the best person for that." Pelosi, speaker from 2007 to 2011 and the first woman to hold that job, was certain she will hold it again. Her foes were equally confident they have the votes to stop her ascension. And now President Donald Trump is getting into the fray, offering Saturday to provide Republican votes for Pelosi's candidacy even though the GOP has long used the California Democrat as an election target.
For now, it's a band of disgruntled Democrats, led mostly by men, in the forefront of the opposition. With a test vote looming in late November, and at least one potential Pelosi challenger stepping forward, Democrats are facing the uncomfortable prospect of the internal squabble that the speaker's vote Jan. 3 could drag on for weeks.
"I think chaos is good if it's productive. I think chaos is bad if it is too disruptive and it divides us too much," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, whose leaders were upbeat after meeting with Pelosi this past week. "We don't have a lot of time," Jayapal said. "We need to put forward the vision of who we are as a party and what we're fighting for and so that needs to happen very, very quickly."
Pelosi was expected to work the phones from California after meeting privately with newly elected Democrats who could be crucial to her bid.
Those incoming lawmakers indicated they were having good meetings with the leader, though few said the talks had changed their minds.