On Tuesday, Democratic House members voted to retain Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as their minority leader for the 114th Congress starting in January. On Wednesday, her first test as the Democratic leader fell flat when members rejected her choice for a plum committee assignment.
The Associated Press, via Yahoo News reported:
In a closed-door meeting, Democrats voted 100-90 to make New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The loser was California Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Pelosi friend whose Silicon Valley district is near San Francisco, which Pelosi represents.
The vote to replace the retiring Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) appeared to signify that a majority of the Democratic House members were in no mood to reward a Pelosi ally after their party’s poor showing at the midterm elections.
According to the AP:
Pallone was supported by Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democratic leader and a long-time Pelosi rival.
Pelosi had taken the unusual step for a leader of sending a letter supporting Eshoo to Democrats.
“One can make the argument that she overdid it,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), said of the Pelosi letter, according to the AP, which reported:.
The Energy and Commerce panel is coveted because of its jurisdiction over high-profile issues like health, environment and communications.
The vote was conducted by secret ballot. Internal congressional contests like Wednesday’s can be buffeted by numerous factors, including regional loyalty, gender and race, personal relationships and the degree to which seniority is valued.
Pallone is the more senior of the two contending for the spot, having been elected to the House in 1988–Eshoo arrived four years later.
Yet another factor that could have played a role was the negative national attention Pelosi received as the result of her decision to decline waiving caucus rules by not allowing Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) to vote in the leadership and committee races from home.
Duckworth is a decorated war veteran and double-amputee in the final month of her pregnancy, and was advised by her physician not to travel to Washington until after delivery.