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Leadership Deal Fails to Allay Democratic Unrest

A handful of moderate Democrats have already said they will not support Pelosi as Democratic leader and roughly two dozen others said before the election that they would prefer a more centrist leader. But Shuler, the only person to step forward to run against her, acknowledged he doesn’t have the votes to win.

Still, another senior Democratic aide said concerns about Pelosi’s leadership have not waned in recent days

“There’s a large group of people who are still scratching their heads, saying, ‘Why is she doing this?’” the aide said.

Meanwhile, Democratic Reps. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) and Peter DeFazio (Ore.) are pressing ahead with their campaign to delay Wednesday’s leadership elections until December. They plan to urge Members returning to the Capitol on Monday night to sign on to a letter to leaders calling for the postponement. Sixteen Democrats had signed on to the letter as of Monday afternoon, according to Kaptur spokesman Steve Fought.

Fought noted that after House Democrats “took a thumping in 1994,” they did not hold leadership elections until Nov. 30. “First we need a strategy,” Fought said. “Then we need a leadership team to execute that strategy. Things are in reverse right now.”

A Democratic aide with ties to moderates said the test could come for Pelosi in the coming weeks when she tries to muster the votes for a controversial bill.

“That will demonstrate who’s really upset and who’s not,” the aide said.

The aide said there wouldn’t be much point in Pelosi reaching out to moderates as a group, at least for the time being, because many of them are “too disgusted” to listen.

“I don’t really know what good it would do. ... You can’t put a Band-Aid on what happened on election night, and I don’t think there’s anything she can say right now,” the aide said.

Rep. Frank Pallone, however, insisted that the deal Pelosi brokered to make room for both Clyburn and Hoyer in leadership will tamp down Democratic infighting.

“I think it’s been worked out, and I’m happy with the fact that Mr. Clyburn is going to be the Assistant Leader,” the New Jersey Democrat said. “I think — from what I can see — it’s been worked out in a way that there should be a lot of unity.”

As of yet, Clyburn’s role in the leadership remains unclear, according to several senior Democratic aides.

“I don’t think it’s been defined,” one aide said. “If it’s been defined, it hasn’t been shared.”

“It seems like Members should have ideas of what the position should do before it’s brought up for a vote,” another aide said. “It’s a very high-level position, but no one has any idea of the role it plays in the Caucus.”

Pelosi told Democratic leaders Monday that the position was not “new” — and that they are dropping a couple of words in the title, the aide said. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) currently holds the title of Assistant to the Speaker, but that is not an elected position, nor are Van Hollen’s duties expected to just be handed over to Clyburn.

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