A group of House Republicans and 10 Democrats who voted against Rep. Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House in 2019 are engaged in behind-the-scenes discussions to deny the San Francisco liberal from another term as head of the lower chamber of Congress, The Epoch Times reported, citing an unidentified source.
The newspaper quoted a ''veteran senior congressional aide who advises multiple members of Congress,'' who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
''A serious effort is underway to prevent Pelosi from becoming speaker, backed by the GOP and Democrats who are disturbed by their party’s embrace of extreme rhetoric and policies like 'defund the police,''' The Epoch Times quoted the aide as saying.
''The odds of success are less than 50-50, but it’s one of the more intriguing leadership challenges to emerge in recent decades.''
The aide did not identify anyone by name in the discussions, for concern over it collapsing the negotiations, and no one from neither Pelosi’s office nor House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly responded to calls for comment, the Times said.
The 10 Democrats who voted against Pelosi two years ago were Reps. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Kathleen Rice of New York, Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, Jared Golden of Maine, Jason Crow of Colorado, and Jim Cooper of Tennessee.
Republicans will have 211 members in the House of Representatives that will be sworn in on Jan. 3, up from the 195 at the end of the current Congress. There also is one race unresolved and one seat vacant following the death of Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, R-La., from COVID-19 on Tuesday.
With Democrats controlling 222 seats, Pelosi would need 217 of the 433 member votes to retain the speakership. However, the Times pointed out, nearly two dozen House Democrats have remained out of Washington for the past six months due to the fear of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 and have been voting by proxy.
Proxy voting is not permitted for the speaker of the House and one Democrat, Rep. Rick Larsen of Washington, announced Dec. 23 that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus and will continue to vote by proxy.
Depending on if any more members do not appear, the number of votes required to win the speakership would be lower, and the Republicans may only need to sway a handful of the 10 Pelosi Democrat defectors from 2019 to defeat her.
''The speaker needs a majority of those present and voting to garner a majority, and if a coalition votes 'present' as a protest vote, it is likely that the coalition can either negotiate with Pelosi for concessions on the rules and committee chairs or coalition with Republicans to elect a different speaker,'' said Brian Darling, former senior counsel to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
''The latter is unlikely, but if Pelosi loses on the first ballot, her power will be diluted, and she may just step aside for a new speaker.''
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