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Democrats vote to nominate Nancy Pelosi for House speaker

House Democrats overwhelmingly picked Nancy Pelosi to be their nominee for House speaker on Wednesday at a closed-door meeting.

Posted: Nov 28, 2018 2:29 PM

(CNN) -- House Democrats overwhelmingly picked Nancy Pelosi to be their nominee for House speaker on Wednesday at a closed-door meeting, bringing the long-time Democratic leader one step closer to reclaiming the gavel when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in the new year.

Pelosi was nominated as speaker by House Democrats by a 203-32 vote, according to attendees in the room. Three ballots were blank. One was absent.

A small, but vocal, faction of Democrats have been attempting to derail Pelosi's run for speaker, but she has succeeded in winning over a number of critics in recent days and was expected to easily win the nomination since it required only a majority of House Democrats. The make-or-break moment for Pelosi isn't expected to come until January, when the full House holds a final floor vote to elect the speaker.

House Democrats are also holding elections on Wednesday for positions lower in the leadership hierarchy.

The first election to be decided was for the position of Democratic caucus chair. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York was elected to the post, making him the No. 5-ranked Democrat next Congress. The vote was close, 123-113. He defeated Rep. Barbara Lee, who would have been the first African-American woman in Democratic leadership.

At 48, Jeffries is relatively young compared to the rest of the caucus and a rising star in the Democratic Party. Winning the position of caucus chair will elevate him further in the party's hierarchy and give him an opportunity to wield more power and influence. With Rep. Jim Clyburn's expected ascent to the majority whip position, Jeffries' win means that two of the top five leadership positions in the Democratic caucus will be held by African-American members.

Lee, who is 72, said on Wednesday that she felt there were "institutional barriers" in her way.

"You feel some disappointment only with the institutional barriers that I recognized that were out there during this campaign. I'm really disappointed in that, knowing this was an uphill battle," she said.

Asked if she felt ageism and sexism were at place, Lee said yes. "You heard and saw what took place, so absolutely, I think that is the case," she said.

"We still have many glass ceilings to break," she added.

Speaking to reporters after winning his election, Jeffries said he wanted to thank Lee "for her tremendous service to this nation" and characterized the race very differently: "From the very beginning through the very end, this was a friendly contest of ideas."

The elections are currently ongoing at the Capitol and will continue throughout the day.

Inside the room where Democrats are voting, Rep. Joe Crowley, the outgoing caucus chair who lost his primary to incoming freshman lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an upset, sang an Irish ballad to the House Democratic Caucus, two members present told CNN. The caucus gave him a standing ovation.

Other elections Wednesday

There isn't expected to be much suspense or surprise in most of the other high-profile leadership races on Wednesday since the next three highest-ranking positions after Speaker -- majority leader, majority whip and assistant Democratic leader -- all feature only one candidate.

Reps. Steny Hoyer and Clyburn, the respective current No. 2 and No 3. House Democrats, are running to maintain their same rank in the new Democrat-led Congress, keeping in place a Democratic leadership team that has been in power for years.

Hoyer, the current minority whip, is running to become majority leader in the new Congress. Clyburn, the current assistant Democratic leader, is running to become majority whip.

The position of assistant Democratic leader in the new Congress also has just one candidate: New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who currently serves as chair of the House Democratic campaign arm.

Elections will also decide who will become vice chair of the Democratic caucus and who will serve as the new chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House campaign arm for Democrats.

Unlike many of the other races, the DCCC chair election features a crowded field.

Reps. Denny Heck of Washington, Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Suzan DelBene of Washington and Sean Patrick Maloney of New York are all running for the post.

On Tuesday, Maloney asked for a delay in the DCCC chair election after being "hospitalized Monday with an urgent but temporary medical condition" stemming from "a persistent bacterial infection that spread to a number of his internal organs," according to a statement from his office.

The statement said that Maloney would withdraw as a candidate if there is not a delay in the election. It's not yet clear if the election will be delayed.

Pelosi's path to the speakership

Pelosi and her allies have been working to make deals with some of her critics and win over detractors -- and have several more weeks to continue doing so if they deem it necessary to shore up support before the January vote.

On Wednesday, the Democratic members of a group known as the problem solvers caucus put out a statement saying that they had reached an agreement with Pelosi that would "help break the gridlock" in Congress. Nine of the House Democrats who are members of the caucus had previously said they would not vote for Pelosi unless she endorsed their proposed changes to House rules.

In another sign that Pelosi's bid could be gaining momentum, Rep. Stephen Lynch, one of the Democrats who previously signed a letter calling for new leadership, walked out of the caucus meeting on Wednesday side-by-side with Nancy Pelosi as cameras flashed all around them.

Speaking to reporters afterward, Lynch said he told Pelosi that he can be persuaded to support her and that they're going to have a conversation later Wednesday.

He didn't rule out the idea that he could possibly vote for Pelosi as soon as today. "I'm persuadable," he said.

But it was also clear on Wednesday that Pelosi has not eliminated the opposition to her becoming speaker.

Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Pelosi critic, said in a statement that she and others "met with Leader Pelosi and tried to engage her in a reasonable conversation about leadership transition," on Wednesday. But, Rice said, "Unfortunately, our concerns were dismissed outright," adding, "We remain united behind our goal of new leadership and intend to vote against Leader Pelosi in Caucus and on the Floor of the House."

A source told CNN that Rice along with Pelosi critics, Reps. Seth Moulton and Tim Ryan were present at the meeting, which took place in Pelosi's office.

Moulton later released a statement on the meeting as well. "I am disappointed to report that no agreement was reached in this initial meeting," he said, but added, "We are hopeful Leader Pelosi will invite us back to the table to plan for the future success of the Democratic Party."

Earlier this month, Pelosi won the support of Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, who had previously criticized her and publicly toyed with the idea of challenging her. At nearly the same time that Fudge announced she would vote for Pelosi for speaker, Pelosi announced that she will make Fudge the chair of an elections subcomittee in the new Congress.

In another example of Pelosi's powers of persuasion at work, Rep. Brian Higgins of New York came out in support of her Speakers' bid last week despite previously signing onto a letter calling for new leadership. When Higgins reversed course, he told CNN that he got Pelosi to commit to prioritizing a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and a measure to allow people 50 and older to buy into Medicare.

Pelosi does still face some opposition within her caucus, however, though she and her allies continue to express confidence that she will ultimately win.

Earlier in the week, Pelosi detractors added another rebel to their ranks when Gil Cisneros, a Democrat who recently won a race in a conservative district in California, announced he would sign the letter pledging not to support her on the floor.

To secure the nomination on Wednesday, Pelosi will only need a majority vote in the Democratic caucus.

She will face a higher hurdle in the final vote in January when she will have to win a majority of all members of the House who are present and voting -- typically 218, though it would be possible for her to win with fewer votes in certain scenarios.

The-CNN-Wire
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Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 161516

Reported Deaths: 3916
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10708104
Hinds10519205
Harrison7555113
Jackson6708128
Rankin6130112
Lee547697
Madison5202110
Forrest400187
Jones382189
Lauderdale3727147
Lafayette344057
Washington3367108
Lamar307550
Lowndes261167
Oktibbeha259962
Bolivar250185
Panola240253
Neshoba2311122
Marshall227151
Leflore213991
Monroe212278
Pontotoc211231
Lincoln200867
Sunflower195555
Warren184958
Tate184051
Union176826
Copiah172540
Pike168360
Pearl River163870
Yazoo162940
Scott162730
Itawamba162637
Alcorn160428
Coahoma157844
Prentiss156732
Simpson155153
Adams148352
Grenada147145
Leake143344
Holmes135761
Covington135541
Tippah132530
George131725
Winston131726
Hancock130942
Wayne124924
Attala124735
Marion124248
Tishomingo114844
Chickasaw112132
Newton112129
Tallahatchie100727
Clay97127
Clarke95653
Jasper88523
Stone83115
Calhoun81513
Walthall79930
Montgomery78826
Carroll76315
Smith75716
Lawrence75214
Yalobusha74428
Noxubee74217
Perry69326
Tunica63519
Greene63022
Jefferson Davis60217
Amite59315
Claiborne59316
Humphreys55719
Quitman5117
Benton50518
Kemper49318
Webster47914
Wilkinson41322
Jefferson38712
Franklin3726
Choctaw3697
Sharkey33117
Issaquena1234
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 260359

Reported Deaths: 3776
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34716513
Mobile20452370
Madison14215153
Tuscaloosa13755173
Montgomery12731243
Shelby1110278
Baldwin9341137
Lee801566
Morgan722855
Etowah692170
Calhoun6809121
Marshall675058
Houston552739
DeKalb512940
Cullman480246
St. Clair460357
Limestone455046
Lauderdale443357
Elmore432567
Walker3861112
Talladega381157
Jackson361623
Colbert341546
Blount315845
Autauga289342
Franklin262634
Coffee257717
Dale244454
Dallas234932
Chilton233641
Covington232434
Russell23153
Escambia206932
Tallapoosa190291
Chambers187551
Clarke164120
Pike163814
Marion148236
Winston144725
Lawrence137336
Pickens129720
Geneva12818
Marengo126724
Bibb125238
Barbour121429
Butler120042
Randolph107022
Cherokee106724
Hale101432
Fayette99916
Clay94825
Washington93921
Henry8996
Monroe84611
Lowndes82629
Cleburne80714
Macon77122
Crenshaw73330
Conecuh72914
Lamar7258
Bullock70919
Perry6987
Wilcox65518
Sumter59522
Greene44518
Choctaw43519
Coosa3824
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