WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — House Democrats nominated Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday to serve a fourth term as Speaker of the House and lead them into Joe Biden’s presidency.
Democrats used a voice vote to make Pelosi, D-Calif., their choice to serve two more years in her post. Scattered around the country, it was the party’s first virtual leadership election, a response to the coronavirus pandemic. Pelosi will be leading a smaller and more ideologically divided majority than in the past.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and No. 3 party leader Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., were also on track to retain their positions.
“Let us all be advocates for unity in the Democratic party, where our values are opportunity and community,” Pelosi, the first female speaker, wrote to Democrats this week.
The full House will formally elect the new speaker when the new Congress convenes in early January, shortly before Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
Pelosi has won acclaim among Democrats as a leading foe of outgoing President Donald Trump in battles over impeachment, immigration and health care.
But with some votes still being tallied in this month’s elections, 10 incumbent House Democrats have been defeated, dashing expectations of adding seats and damaging party morale. Democrats were on track to have perhaps a 222-213 majority, one of the smallest in decades.
Besides bitterness over their election setback in the House, many Democrats continue calling for fresh leadership. Pelosi and Hoyer have been No. 1 and 2 House Democrats since 2003, while Clyburn rose to the No. 3 ranks in 2007. Pelosi and Clyburn are 80, Hoyer is 81.
Pelosi’s reelection by the House would give her a seventh and eight year as speaker. She served the first four during the 2000s until Republicans recaptured the House majority in the tea party election of 2010, a conservative uprising that presaged the rise of Trump.
House Democrats were also voting Wednesday and Thursday on lesser leadership posts.
When the House elects its new speaker, Pelosi will need the majority of votes cast by both parties. Since nearly all Republicans are expected to back their leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Pelosi can afford to lose only a few Democrats.
“I think it’s smooth sailing,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a Pelosi supporter. “We’ve maintained our majority, but it’s slender. But I don’t think anybody would be foolish enough to take advantage of the situation.”
When Pelosi nailed down the support she needed to become speaker in 2018, she said she’d agreed to a proposal limiting her to serving in the job only through 2022.
To prevent lawmakers from crowding into one room, Democrats’ leadership candidates were delivering remarks to scattered lawmakers using Zoom, the online meeting platform. Republicans met in a crowded hotel ballroom Tuesday and reelected their current leadership team.
Democrats’ votes were being cast on a new app designed to keep the process secure by using encryption.
In a test run Tuesday, Democrats voted on their favorite all-time musician. Their choice by a wide margin: the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.
The Associated Press contributed to this report