Pelosi ekes out narrow win for House speaker despite threats of defection from progressives

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was narrowly re-elected as House speaker on Sunday after a number of potential defections from progressives threatened to devastate her political career.

Among those who suggested they may be in favor of firing Pelosi from her top role in the House ahead of Sunday’s vote were two of the newest members of the lower chamber’s “Squad” of far-left Democrats: now-Reps. Cori Bush (MO) and Jamaal Bowman (NY).

According to the Washington Examiner, neither Bush nor Bowman was willing to commit to voting for Pelosi ahead of time, with the New York congressman telling reporters that his constituents “will find out when my vote is tallied.”

Bush, meanwhile, vowed to “make sure that voices of the people of St. Louis are heard and we have what we need,” the Examiner reported. “And so you will find out then,” she said of the speakership vote.

Pelosi wins – just barely

In the end, just a handful of Democrats defected Sunday; according to USA Today, Maine Rep. Jared Golden and Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb each cast their votes for other Democrats.

New Jersey’s Mikie Sherrill, Michigan’s Elissa Slotkin, and Virginia’s Abigail Spanberger, who made headlines last November over heated comments she made about Democrats’ performance in the 2020 elections, all opted to vote “present,” USA Today reported.

Pelosi ultimately garnered 216 votes in favor of her speakership, according to USA Today; meanwhile, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) pulled in 209 votes, with no Republicans defecting.

The close match-up came after some on the right suggested that McCarthy could actually pull out a win, thanks in part to House rules requiring members to vote in person for speaker, not by proxy as many had been doing in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Let’s say, just theoretically, we had six or eight people out with COVID and the Republicans have none. They probably could elect McCarthy,” Rep. John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat, told reporters ahead of the vote, according to the Washington Examiner.

A look ahead

Pelosi, 80, will now begin what many expect to be her last term as speaker with a razor-thin 222–211 majority in the House, USA Today reports.

The party lost roughly a dozen seats in November’s elections, and Joe Biden pulled even more members away from the lower chamber when naming his picks for his upcoming administration.

With progressives holding back their enthusiasm and Republicans holding strong against a slim Democrat majority, it’s safe to say the newly elected speaker has a rocky road ahead if she hopes to get anything done in the 117th Congress.

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