Jeffries, the House Democratic Caucus chairman, famously nominated Pelosi to be speaker in January 2019 when Democrats took back the House, saying in an enthusiastic floor speech that “House Democrats are down with NDP — Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi.”
Two years later, Democrats are poised to have the narrowest majority since the dawn of the new millennium when Republicans occupied barely 51% of seats in 2001. No Democrat ran against Pelosi for the speakership, and Jeffries said the party will back her once again.
“Nancy Pelosi will be the next speaker,” Jeffries said Tuesday at a Capitol news conference. “I look forward to nominating her.”
Democrats will have a 222-to-211 majority next year, with two House races yet to be finalized in Iowa and New York. That means just a few Democrats defecting could deny Pelosi the majority of votes needed (218 votes if all 435 members are present).
Coronavirus also complicates attendance. While Democrats enacted proxy voting for the current Congress, all of them will need to be physically present on Jan. 3 to be sworn in and then to cast votes for speaker and the new rules for the next Congress.
Additional pressure on the caucus is coming as President-elect Joe Biden considers House Democrats to join his Cabinet.
Already, Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., has been tapped to join the Biden administration and several others have been floated for key Cabinet posts, including Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., for Interior secretary; Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, for Agriculture secretary and Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., for Housing and Urban Development secretary. Bass, who was a contender for Biden’s running mate, could also be appointed as the new senator in California to succeed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
“There’s a lot of talent within the House Democratic caucus it’s no surprise that several members may be considered for opportunities within the Biden administration,” Jeffries said.
Still, the caucus chairman signaled confidence Democrats will be able to pass legislation and work cooperatively with the slimmer numbers.
“Our majority in the next Congress will be lean, mean and unified,” he said.