House Democrats voted 129-68 against a motion to delay Wednesday’s leadership elections, clearing the way for the party’s existing team, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to continue to lead the party in the minority next year.
The relatively strong effort to postpone the proceedings consumed hours of debate behind closed doors Wednesday morning and sent a strong message to leadership about the unease among rank-and-file Members about where the party is headed, said Rep. Peter DeFazio, one of the proposal’s sponsors.
“I think 68 votes sends a substantial message, and we’re pleased with the result,” the Oregon Democrat said. “I think we started a dialogue in the Caucus,” he said.
Rep. David Wu, who has called on Pelosi to step aside, said the Caucus will nonetheless unite behind her.
Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) was the first to get a renewal of his contract, with Members agreeing to let him keep his post in the minority by acclamation.
Democrats also began deliberating a series of rules changes proposed by party dissidents to limit the leadership’s power, but they agreed to put off votes on them until a later date.
Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah) planned to nominate Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.) to challenge Pelosi for Minority Leader; Shuler’s bid is symbolic, and he isn’t expected to garner much support.