From right: Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn watch as Republicans take control of the 112th Congress on Wednesday.
The aide said it is not surprising Pelosi is taking the lead as Democrats settle back into the minority. Hoyer and Pelosi have new jobs with different responsibilities, the aide said.
“When you are the Whip, your job is to count votes. All of these other things fall under the responsibility of the leader’s office.”
Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman said it makes sense for Pelosi to take back control of the ranking-member meetings.
“Last Congress, Steny Hoyer as the Majority Leader met with the Democratic chairs of the committees and we were discussing a legislative schedule, and where different items of legislation were at that particular time, and how he anticipated the calendar, which the Majority Leader is required to keep for the House,” the California Democrat said. “Now we have a different role and our leader is Nancy Pelosi, not Steny Hoyer. She’s the Minority Leader.”
Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Pelosi’s recent posture is “absolutely” good for House Democrats.
“It’s about tightening us up,” the Arizona Democrat said. “It’s about having the same message. It’s about minimizing our differences. ... I think it’s organizationally very good.”
A senior Democratic aide with ties to moderates said Pelosi had already started to flex her muscle behind closed doors and predicted she would continue.
“She’s used to being in change, and she’s going to want to be in charge,” the aide said. “Whatever role she wants for herself, she’s going to carve out and seize.”
Pelosi has always been defined by her ability to maximize influence. She and Hoyer have been known to butt heads: In 2001, Pelosi bested Hoyer in a bitter race for Minority Whip. Tensions between the two have flared, but aides insist that they are working together now and power is being divided up amicably.
Rep. Henry Cuellar said that Pelosi has “always been hands on” and that he had not seen a major shift in her approach.
“I think she’s still doing the same thing she was doing last time. ... She can go from the big picture to the details. She does that in a very good way,” said the Texas Democrat, whom Pelosi tapped to be a vice chairman of he Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.
Cuellar said Pelosi and Hoyer “complement each other very well” on the leadership team, noting that Hoyer is uniquely positioned to reach across the aisle. Cuellar said he expected Hoyer to do more than just whip votes.
“Instead of just counting, he’ll still look at the numbers. But I think he’s looking also ... at the interactions with different groups and of course with the Republican side to see if there’s any way that we can reach compromises,” he said.
Lawmakers said Hoyer has spent recent weeks reaching out to Caucus leaders and has plans to regularly meet with the heads of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Blue Dog Coalition, New Democrat Coalition, Progressive Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Asian Pacific American Caucus.
Rep. Jim Matheson, another Blue Dog leader, said Hoyer is doing the same type of outreach he did in the majority.