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Kuster, Pappas undecided in potential support of Pelosi’s bid for speaker

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks in during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. Pelosi says she's confident she will win enough support to be elected speaker of the House next year and that she is the best person for the job. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite



For the Monitor
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Rep. Annie Kuster and Congressman-elect Chris Pappas say they’re undecided on whether they’ll back longtime U.S. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s bid for speaker.

And the votes of New Hampshire’s two representatives in the upcoming Congress could be crucial, as Pelosi feverishly works behind the scenes this week to round up the support needed to be elected speaker.

Pushing back against Democratic critics who suggested she doesn’t have the votes, Pelosi vowed Wednesday that she will be the speaker of the House.

But with a growing list of Democratic lawmakers saying they won’t support her, Pelosi doesn’t have much wiggle room as she tries to recapture the speaker’s gavel, which she last held from 2006-10.

While Kuster remains undecided, the Democrat from Hopkinton who was re-elected last week to a fourth term representing the state’s 2nd Congressional District appears to be leaning toward backing Pelosi.

“New voices will be an important part of our leadership,” Kuster told the Monitor. “I will carefully consider the candidates for all leadership positions.”

Though Kuster did express benefits of a Pelosi speakership.

“I do believe the institutional knowledge and experience of leader Pelosi will be valuable as we transition to the majority and will pave the way for the success of future leaders of our party,” she said. “Pelosi has proven her effectiveness as a leader by protecting and strengthening access to health care for millions of Americans, and I believe that experience is critical as we work to bring down costs and improve quality of care.”

Pelosi’s pulling out all the stops as she lobbies newly elected Democratic members of Congress. One of them is Pappas, who defeated Republican Eddie Edwards in last week’s election to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in the state’s 1st District.

“I haven’t decided yet,” Pappas told the Monitor on Wednesday.

The Democratic caucus will gather Nov. 28 to vote for speaker and other leadership positions.

“There’s still some time and once again as I’ve said all along, we’ll see who’s running,” Pappas said.

As of now, the 78-year old Pelosi is the only Democrat running for speaker.

“I think it’s important that we do get some new voices into leadership that represent the vibrancy of the freshman class,” said Pappas, 38.

Nearly two-dozen Democratic incumbents and newly elected lawmakers have said they’ll oppose Pelosi as speaker. But all Pelosi needs is a simple majority.

It gets trickier when the full House votes for speaker. The Democrats, who won back the majority for the first time in eight years, currently have a 225-200 advantage in the new Congress. But with 20 races still undecided, it’s very likely that the Democratic majority will grow.

Pelosi will need the support of 218 representatives in the floor vote to win the speakership.

It’s unclear if Democrats who will oppose Pelosi in this month’s caucus vote will end up supporting her when the full House votes. Following the 2016 election, more than 60 Democrats opposed Pelosi in the leadership race, but later nearly all voted for her in the full House floor vote.

Pappas was in the nation’s capital Tuesday, for freshman orientation, but returned to New Hampshire briefly for an Executive Council breakfast and governor’s meeting.

Pappas said he’s using his time in Washington to get up to speed on setting up a congressional office and hiring, “all that important stuff to make sure we hit the ground running in January.”

He added that he’s getting tips from both Kuster and Shea-Porter.

“They’re going to provide us a lot of support as we get things set up,” he said.