In the wake of devastating losses for Democrats at the polls Nov. 2, outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi has continued to reward and rely upon her inner circle of confidantes, leading some critics to complain that a shake-up is in order.
Another senior Democratic aide agreed, arguing that there has been no noticeable adjustment to how Pelosi and her inner circle are operating. Pelosi hasn’t announced any staff changes since the midterms, nor is the Caucus adding any new faces to its leadership lineup. Pelosi will helm the Caucus, followed by Steny Hoyer (Md.) as Minority Whip, John Larson (Conn.) as Caucus chairman and Xavier Becerra (Calif.) as Caucus vice chairman. Rep. James Clyburn, now Majority Whip, will become Assistant Leader, a move that allows him to keep a prominent place in the hierarchy.
“She has not followed the lead of Harry Reid in terms of empowering other Members of the Caucus to oversee [the messaging] component,” the Democratic aide said. “Given some of her challenges with rebuilding her image ... she should take a look at how she can maybe bring in other Members to take on a chunk of this.”
But some Democrats suggest that while the Speaker didn’t act immediately to transform the Caucus after Nov. 2, she may still make some changes. She has scheduled a meeting today to discuss messaging issues with Members and consultants, and more meetings are planned to develop a new agenda with input across the Caucus, several aides said.
“In the coming months, the House Democrats will work to develop policies and a unified message that will represent the voices of our diverse Caucus, but most importantly, puts the interests of America’s working families first,” Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said.
But another senior Democratic aide questioned whether those sessions would produce any substantive changes, calling them a “waste of time.”
“The consultants who are getting called in tomorrow are the same old ones we have used before,” this aide said.
But a Pelosi ally insisted that the outgoing Speaker has been adjusting things in the wake of the midterms, noting that almost half of the members for the next Congress’ Steering and Policy Committee, which decides committee seats and helps direct the Caucus’ policy agenda, are new to the panel or in new positions on the panel.
“Traditionally, when Democrats were in the minority, the Steering and Policy Committee has had a much more enhanced role, and we expect this to occur this cycle even on a larger scale,” this Pelosi supporter said.
Wasserman Schultz’s consolation prize for being spurned again at the DCCC — and likely getting taken off the Appropriations Committee — is a vice chairmanship on Steering. Fiscally conservative Blue Dog Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas) was also named a vice chairman, and Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah) — who called for Pelosi to step aside as leader and whom Hoyer recently tapped to become a Chief Deputy Whip — will also serve on the committee. Pelosi also appointed 10 new Members to the panel, including four women, two African-Americans and a Blue Dog, according to the Pelosi ally.