For the first time since their Election Day setbacks, House Democrats gathered for a caucus session this afternoon, a day before their scheduled leadership elections. During the closed-door meeting, Democratic leaders heard from a raft of emotional -- and sometimes angry -- colleagues, many of whom were defeated in the midterm elections and blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“You’re the main reason we lost!” defeated Rep. Allen Boyd of Florida was quoted as saying. Boyd could not be reached immediately for comment.
Others defended Pelosi, and some described being inspired by a speech given by Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, who reminded his colleagues that it was important to do the right thing, even when it is as politically costly as it was on November 2.
Some members described the venting session as cathartic if, at times, sad.
A handful of the Democrats -- mostly centrists -- have been calling for a leadership change in the wake of the electoral drubbing. Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina has said he will vie against Pelosi for the top leadership post, although he acknowledged that it is only a symbolic challenge. No one is predicting a purge in the closed-door voting on Wednesday.
Clyburn’s decision late last week to back off challenging Majority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland averted what could have been a showdown between those two lawmakers for the No. 2 Democratic post in the minority next year.
In helping to craft a deal between the two, Pelosi said that a new No. 3 leadership job in the Democratic House minority would be created for Clyburn, who is now the highest-ranking black lawmaker in Congress. But details of that role have yet to be announced.
The Congressional Black Caucus continues to insist that details about the new leadership role for Clyburn be finalized before they endorse the leadership’s plan. The CBC was scheduled to meet today at 5 p.m. in Pelosi’s office. Information about the new post was expected to be provided.