House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is trying to keep the number of Democratic defections to a minimum at the start of the new Congress by delaying the announcement of coveted committee and subcommittee posts until after Tuesday’s vote, The Hill reports.
Since the vote is public, it is a political risk for House members to vote against their own leader and endanger what jobs they may receive.
Although Pelosi does not face any chance of being ousted, a large number of Democratic defections would be an embarrassment for her and would further illustrate the infighting of the Democratic Party and make it more difficult to challenge the Republicans.
For that reason, some are predicting the defections will be minimal, despite severe disagreements, so as to project a focused, unified front, with one Democrat telling the Hill that "It’s hunker down and fight time."
Pelosi, who has led her party in the House for the last 14 years, had kept defections to single digits until 2011 when 20 Democrats voted against her after the Republicans took control in the chamber.
The Democrats' dismal performance in this past election has led to speculation that the number of defections could swell again, as party members try to figure out what went so wrong, although so far only four have announced they will vote against her.
But there are still doubts about Pelosi’s suitability for the position, illustrated when she told CBS' "Face The Nation" last month that Democrats are not looking for a new direction, despite the bruising electoral defeat.
In addition to holding on to her nominations, Pelosi has also adopted a number of post-election caucus reforms that seek to empower junior members and begin grooming them for a post-Pelosi era, the Hill reports.
On the Republican side, Speaker Paul Ryan does not appear to face any serious threat of more than a few defections due to the unifying effect of having control of the White House, as well as both chambers of Congress.
His goal is to keep defections to single digits, which would be quite an accomplishment considering that during the campaign many Republicans were upset with Ryan for his cool treatment of Trump; the Speaker all but abandoned the GOP nominee following the release of the 2005 recording of Trump where he made lewd comments about women.
But after the election, Trump and Ryan patched up their differences in the realization that they had a golden opportunity to pass a 2017 Republican agenda if they worked together, the Hill reports.
This made even Ryan’s harshest critics come around to supporting him, with one explaining that if Trump now wants him as Speaker, then he will vote for him.
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