DemDaily: The Leadership of the 117th Congress

December 4, 2020

The US House has elected its leaders for the 117th Congress, which will convene on January 3, 2021.

Each party elects leadership responsible for leading the party's conference, setting legislative agendas, marshaling support for bills, and directing committee assignments, among other duties.

Jeffries on Pelosi: "A legendary legislator, notorious negotiator and a powerful, profound and principled public servant" (J.ScottApplewhite/AP)

The leadership elections, which were held November 18th, saw most of the current party leaders return unopposed, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA).

The Speaker of the House, is elected on the first day the new Congress convenes. Other leadership positions are elected in meetings of the conference prior to the start of a new Congress.

It marks Pelosi's fourth term with the gavel. The California Congresswoman made history as the first woman elected Speaker of the House in 2007. Democrats lost the majority in 2011, but she regained the gavel in 2019 when Democrats retook the majority following the 2018 midterms.

The GOP made support for, or opposition to, re-electing Pelosi to the speakership an issue in the 2018 elections, attempting to tie moderate Democrats to the "left-wing" policies of the San Francisco "liberal."

The "new" 117th House Leadership: Clark, Hoyer, Pelosi, Clyburn and Jeffries

After Democrats flipped forty seats to take control of the House, Pelosi, 80, committed to not seeking the speakership beyond 2022 in deference to younger Democrats' call for generational change.

Although the caucus vote was conducted virtually, Pelosi was approved by a voice vote. She will formally be elected as speaker January 3rd when the full house is sworn in, when she will need to secure a simple majority of 218 Democratic votes to make it official.

The current composition of the incoming 117th House of Representatives stands at 222 Democrats to 211 Republicans. The are still two seats undecided in Iowa's 2nd CD and New York's 22nd.

House Dems also re-elected Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer as House Majority Leader, South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn as Majority Whip, and New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries as House Democratic Caucus Chair.

Maloney touted his ability to win in a Trump-won district despite being "a married gay man with an interracial family." (Andrew Harrer/AP)

Half of the top eight posts had contested races. Massachusetts Congresswoman Katherine Clark defeated Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline, becoming the first woman to hold that position and the highest ranking female lawmaker behind Pelosi.

In the contest for Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the election arm for House Democrats, Sean Patrick Maloney (NY) triumphed over Tony Cárdenas (CA), 119 to 107.

Incoming Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Pete Aguilar (CA) will be the highest-ranking Latino on the emerging leadership team. He beat out Illinois Congresswoman Robin Kelly for the number six slot in leadership, 148-82.

In the three-way race for caucus leadership representative, a position reserved for members who have served five terms or less, Texas Congressman Colin Allred prevailed with 46 votes over Jason Crow (CO) with 43 and Brenda Lawrence (MI) with 42.

House Republicans held their leadership elections on November 17, 2020, re-electing Kevin McCarthy (CA) as minority leader, Steve Scalise (LA) as minority whip, Liz Cheney (WY) as Republican Conference chair. Also reelected were Gary Palmer (AL) as Republican Policy Committee chairman and Tom Emmer (MN) as National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) chair.

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Ballotpedia, The Hill, RollCall, USHouse, Bloomberg, Politico

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