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Happy Thursday morning.
The day is finally here. The Associated Press and major networks officially called the House for Republicans last night, signaling the end of a four-year Democratic majority.
It also means that Speaker Nancy Pelosi must make a decision about her future atop the House Democratic Caucus. We broke the news last night that Pelosi will inform her colleagues of that choice today. Here’s the full statement from Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill:
“The Speaker has been overwhelmed by calls from colleagues, friends and supporters. This evening, the Speaker monitored returns in the three remaining critical states. The Speaker plans to address her future plans tomorrow to her colleagues. Stay tuned.”
So what will Pelosi do?
Let’s start with this: Pelosi took home two different speeches last night, one for each potential scenario, a source told us.
Pelosi, 82, could announce she’s stepping down from the leadership after a legendary, two-decade career leading House Democrats. This includes two stints as the first – and so far, only – female speaker in history.
Or Pelosi could say she feels compelled to run for Democratic leader once again, promising to transition the caucus to the next generation of leaders as she tries to win back the majority in 2024.
We talked to two dozen Democratic lawmakers, aides and Pelosi allies outside of Congress last night. The general consensus is that Pelosi announces she’s exiting the leadership, as she agreed to do in a pledge four years ago.
The recent brutal attack against Paul Pelosi, the speaker’s husband, in their San Francisco home, is a key factor in her decision as well.
Pelosi and her aides have hinted in recent weeks that she would continue serving in Congress even if she’s no longer the party leader. Pelosi was sworn into office in June 1987.
What’s next: House Democrats will gather for a whip meeting at 9 a.m. Several Democrats told us they expect Pelosi to make a speech on the floor sometime after that. Multiple Democrats said they expect a “Dear Colleague,” which Pelosi is fond of sending, as well.
Inside the rest of the leadership: Pelosi’s move would end an unprecedented run for her, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn atop the Democratic Caucus. Their impact on the caucus over the last twenty years, both individually and collectively, simply can’t be overstated.
The immediate question is what happens to Hoyer and Clyburn following Pelosi’s announcement? Neither agreed to the term-limits deal Pelosi made in 2018 and they’re weighing their options.
Hoyer, who has served dutifully as Pelosi’s No. 2 for the last two decades, could run for leader if Pelosi steps down. He’s almost certain to face a challenge from House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries if that happens, however.
Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark is also keen on moving up in the Democratic hierarchy.
The 83-year-old Hoyer is in his 21st term. The Maryland Democrat began his service in the House in May 1981. He’s been part of the Democratic leadership since mid-1989.
Clyburn, 82, is open to the idea of serving in some sort of “emeritus” position. Clyburn hasn’t ruled out supporting Jeffries in a head-to-head match against Hoyer, as we reported earlier this week. Clyburn first entered Congress in 1992, and he became the number three House Democrat in 2006.
Jeffries is the leader of the “New Three,” the trio of House Democrats who have collectively been preparing to advance to the top ranks once the “Big Three” step aside. Clark and Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Pete Aguilar complete the triumvirate.
Jeffries has been deferential to Pelosi since the election, even as it’s clear he’s ready to make a move to become party leader. The New York Democrat has had a packed schedule this week as he meets one-on-one with Democrats, seeking to secure support for his leadership bid.
Jeffries also huddled with a group of House moderates Tuesday, who urged him to pursue the top spot.
“Don’t miss your moment, Hakeem,” the lawmakers told him, according to members present.
The 52-year-old Jeffries would be the first Black lawmaker to become a party leader in either the House or Senate, itself a moment of huge importance.
Clark and Aguilar also have been reaching out to members individually to gauge support for their leadership bids. Clark has indicated to members she will run for the No. 2 spot, as we reported last night.
Last night, as the rumors grew about Pelosi’s impending announcement, Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar were hosting a cocktail hour for newly elected members of the House Democratic Caucus at the Ciel Social Club, a swank rooftop bar downtown. Hoyer and Clyburn were in attendance. Pelosi was not.
– Heather Caygle, John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman
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FIND A JOB IN WASHINGTON!
Looking for a new job during the congressional transition? Join Tom Manatos Jobs’ “Finding a Job in D.C. During Transition” virtual event next Monday, Nov. 21 at 5 p.m. ET. Punchbowl News founders Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman will be speaking about the outlook for the new Congress in 2023 and how to stay informed on everything happening on the Hill. RSVP here to attend!
THE QUEST FOR 218
The House GOP: The mutual dependency society
Three very interesting things happened Wednesday inside the House Republican Conference.
The GOP conference approved a new regional map that gives more power to the rank-and-file to choose committee chairs and composition than ever before.
House Republicans resoundingly rejected a measure that would’ve allowed committee members to elect their own chairs.
The GOP also overwhelmingly adopted a measure to limit the use of the motion to vacate, the mechanism by which members can call for a vote of no confidence in the speaker.
Here’s why each of these moves is important.
The Steering Committee
The House Republican Steering Committee has long been a power center in the GOP. The panel decides who sits on what committees and who wields the gavels. The party leader – the speaker in the majority or leader in the minority – holds four votes, the whip holds two and the rest is made up of members of the leadership and regional representatives. Here is the makeup for this last Congress.
Because the Steering Committee has power, it’s become an object of conservatives’ ire.
In a closed party meeting Wednesday, Republicans approved a new steering map. This new map increases regional representation from 13 to 19, which means 75% of the votes on the committee will be non-leadership representatives.
Here’s the map. As you can see, in some regions it would only take six votes to get on the Steering Committee.
This is a big win for conservatives because it significantly decreases the power of the leadership when it comes to determining the composition of committees. It’s a major devolution of power from the leadership to the rank and file. This map was written, in part, by Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith, who has long been a top rules maven for the House Freedom Caucus.
Also yesterday: The conference resoundingly rejected a proposal from Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), an HFC leader, to have each committee choose their own chairs. This was a victory for GOP leadership, which strongly opposed this measure.
The motion to vacate
House Republicans also approved a leadership-backed rule from Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) to force the conference to sign off on any attempt to oust the speaker. Any member used to be able to offer a so-called “motion to vacate,” which is how former Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) was able to begin the push to get rid of Speaker John Boehner.
Now, if a member wants to bring a motion to vacate to the floor, they have to get the approval of the majority of House Republicans.
Again, this is a big win for the GOP leadership.
Here’s one takeaway: The House Freedom Caucus has some work to do if it wants to build coalitions outside of its small clutch of members. The reality is that yes, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy needs the HFC to win the speakership. But the HFC also needs McCarthy and the rest of the rank and file to notch some victories. This will become much more pronounced in a 221- or 222-seat majority.
– Jake Sherman
Senate sets stage for final action on same-sex marriage
Wednesday was a big day for advocates of same-sex marriage. By a 62-37 vote, the Senate invoked cloture on a motion to begin debate on a bipartisan same-sex marriage bill. This sets the Senate on a path toward final passage of the historic legislation, which could reach President Joe Biden’s desk by next month.
The timeline for final passage is still up in the air. The vote is likely to come after the Senate returns from the Thanksgiving break. The House would then have to approve the revised measure before sending it to the president.
Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) offered an amended version of the legislation that included language dealing with religious liberty concerns from Republicans.
Collins, Tillis and Portman then joined with nine other Senate Republicans in supporting cloture. This includes Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Todd Young (Ind.).
All 50 Senate Democrats voted for the measure.
– John Bresnahan and Max Cohen
PRESENTED BY CHEVRON
At Chevron, we’re working to help fuel transportation with lower lifecycle carbon emissions, and looking into unexpected sources to help do it…even cow waste.
PUNCHBOWL NEWS EVENTS
Warner on the lame duck session and 5G’s impact
Missed our conversation with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) yesterday? Catch up on the conversation here.
PRESENTED BY CHEVRON
9:30 a.m.: Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) will hold a news conference on the House GOP majority’s investigations into Biden’s family’s business dealings.
Noon: President Joe Biden will get his daily intelligence briefing at the White House.
“Key Allies Are Inching Away From Trump,” by Reid Epstein and Lisa Lerer in Orlando and Jonathan Weisman in Chicago
News Analysis: “Republicans Barely Won the House. Now Can They Run It?” by Carl Hulse
Analysis: “GOP leadership races: Trump can’t even get a win there,” by Paul Kane
“Poland May Allow Ukrainian Observers in Missile Blast Probe,” by Piotr Skolimowski
“Departing lawmakers are lining up cushy lobbying gigs,” by Hailey Fuchs
“Bass first woman to be elected L.A. mayor,” by Julia Wick
“With the U.S. out of Afghanistan, China comes calling,” by Nabih Bulos
PRESENTED BY CHEVRON
Energy demand in the transportation industry is growing. At Chevron, we believe the future of energy, and transportation, is lower carbon. Renewable natural gas (RNG), developed from unexpected sources like cow manure and landfills, can help us get there. Under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, capturing RNG from landfills to power vehicles represents a decrease of nearly 50% in lifecycle carbon emissions intensity. Find out how renewable natural gas from cow waste can help renew the way we think about fuel.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
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