Image Courtesy of Roll Call
By Jeremy Perillo
The Democratic and Republican Congressional Caucuses voted to re-elect their party leadership shortly after the November 3 general election. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, all saw their leadership terms extended.
Given the blow to the Democratic House Majority in the recent election, despite the speculated “blue wave,” Nancy Pelosi regained her role as Speaker of the House. The eighty-year-old Californian faced fifteen challengers in 2019, so naturally many speculated whether the lackluster election combined with the party infighting would offer up competition for the Speaker.
Comments Pelosi made in 2018 have resurfaced and suggest that the following two years may be her last as the head of the House Democrats. To soothe tensions among Democrats in 2018, following her ascension to Speaker, Pelosi agreed not to seek the position after four years.
Having been the House Democratic leader since 2002, an abdication on her part would see an interesting powerplay among progressive and moderate Democrats in the Caucus.
Regardless of her future, Pelosi is excited at the opportunity to be working with President-elect Joe Biden for at least the next two years.
Both House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clayburn will remain in their positions. Representative Hakeem Jefferies was re-elected as Democratic Caucus chair, while Representative Katherine Clark beat Representative David Cicilline for the assistant Speaker position.
On the Republican side, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was re-elected to his role, which does not come as a surprise given the success House Republicans had in the 2020 general election. Despite the anticipation that Democrats would increase their majority by seven seats, McCarthy was able to do the complete opposite by gaining over nine seats, with a handful of races still left undecided.
“Republicans delivered a historic political upset fueled by conservative women, minorities and veterans,” McCarthy said. “Everyone predicted Republicans would lose 15 to 20 seats; not one incumbent lost.”
Both Steve Scalise, Minority Whip, and Representative Liz Cheney, chairwoman of the House Republican Caucus, were re-elected to their posts as well. While many of the seats lost to Republicans were a part of the massive Democratic sweep in 2018, the shift away from the blue team does not bode well given the expected results and tumultuous times. The state of the House in 2022 will be very much in the air as McCarthy and other Republican leaders try to take back the majority.
Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were re-elected to their posts a week before the House caucus votes. While the parties wait in limbo for both Georgia Senate runoff elections to occur, these determinations signify that Schumer and McConnell will stay at the helms of their parties in the Senate. McConnell has been the leader of the Republicans in the Senate since 2007, while Schumer assumed his leadership role of the Democrats following former Senator Harry Reid’s retirement in 2017.
As the country transitions from one presidential administration to another, amid a pandemic and economic trouble, Americans will be looking for sound and competent actions from elected officials. Despite the results of the Georgia senate elections, Congress will remain divided with close margins, but with the necessity of helping Americans through these unprecedented times.