Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) is trying to negotiate an end to the race between Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.) for Minority Whip, a senior Democratic aide confirmed Tuesday.
"She is trying to broker a deal between Hoyer and Clyburn to avoid a race ... and not just the Speaker wants it settled. Many rank and file do too," said the aide, who would not elaborate.
Pelosi has been under increasing pressure from her Caucus to intervene in the Hoyer-Clyburn contest, with Members worrying that a protracted race will cause a lasting damage. Some Members have said Pelosi bears responsibility to get involved because her decision to run for Minority Leader precipitated the fight.
But as yet, there is still no resolution.
Clyburn is flying home from Washington, D.C., on Tuesday afternoon with no meetings scheduled with Hoyer or Pelosi, a source close to Clyburn said Tuesday.
Hoyer’s camp earlier Tuesday distributed a letter featuring seven chairmen backing his bid, and his total public support has now reached 48 Members — about half of the votes needed to win — compared with 10 public commitments for Clyburn.
But the source close to Clyburn said he isn’t going to play the public numbers game because it divides the party.
“I don’t think he thinks that’s best for the Caucus,” said the source, who predicted a Clyburn victory.
Clyburn continues to reiterate that he has no interest in moving down in the lineup to become Caucus chairman, something that Hoyer backers have been pushing hard for since Pelosi surprised the Caucus with the announcement that she will stand for Minority Leader next Congress. Clyburn also continues to reject the idea of getting a top seat on the Appropriations Committee as a consolation prize for moving down.
Pelosi’s decision forced the runoff between Clyburn and Hoyer; there is one fewer leadership position for the minority party.
Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) has been making calls to moderates on the behalf of Clyburn and has been arguing that Hoyer should run against Pelosi for Minority Leader instead, according to aides to moderate lawmakers.
A Democratic aide with ties to moderates also said there was no sense that a deal between Hoyer and Clyburn was imminent. Leadership elections are supposed to take place next week when Members return for the lame-duck session.
“At this point, Clyburn has dug his heels in. Hoyer has dug his heels in. I don’t see either of them ceding that spot,” the aide said, noting the fight was particularly damaging because both men were “very well-liked within the Caucus.”
Anna Palmer and Kathleen Hunter contributed to this report.