WASHINGTON — Democrats will once again put Rep. Nancy Pelosi forward as their nominee for U.S. Speaker of the House when the new session convenes in January.
- Pelosi wins Democratic nomination with 203 votes
- Needs 218 to win House Speaker in November
- Democrats electing other leaders as well
The Democrats voted to nominate the congresswoman from California after a closed-door Democratic caucus election Wednesday.
"I think we're in pretty good shape," Pelosi said to reporters after the vote Wednesday.
The Democrats are coming into Congress in January with the majority -- 234 seats. But some Democrats are refusing to vote for Pelosi, who will need 218 votes to be elected.
Pelosi, who served as the first woman speaker from 2007 to 2011, won the Democratic Caucus nomination by a 203 to 32 vote.
“When you’re in crisis, you put your best generals forward, your most experienced, and Nancy Pelosi is that person," said Rep. Val Demings, D-Orlando.
While Pelosi has the nomination, there is no guarantee that someone won't run against her in January.
Among the groups that say it will support Pelosi is the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group that has issued a list of reforms to Congressional rules that they say will help break gridlock in the chambers and get more bills through.
Reps. Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy were among nine Democrats in the Problem Solvers Caucus who had vowed to withhold their support for Pelosi unless certain changes were made in House rules.
That standoff is now over after the minority leader and her allies committed to a House rules overhaul, aiming to empower rank and file members and break partisan gridlock.
“Congress right now is far too closed, it’s very difficult for members to pass bills, for bills to be passed by consensus," said Rep. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee. "We as Democrats need to be better and more open at running Congress than the Republicans have been for the next couple of years.”
Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Winter Park, is one of the members of the Problem Solvers Caucus. She was also elected Tuesday to lead the House Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democrats who tend to be more financially-conservative and strong on defense.
Other Pelosi critics have also flipped to her side recently, or said they may consider supporting her.
The full House will vote for speaker on January 3.
Democrats are also picking other House leadership members.
So far Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland has been elected majority leader. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York was elected the Democratic caucus chair, which is the No. 5 position in Congressional leadership.
Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina will be House Majority Whip. New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Lujan was named assistant Democratic Majority Leader.
After two years in the minority, many freshman Democratic members in Florida’s congressional delegation are looking forward to January, preparing to serve in a completely new capacity.
“I’ve served for 12 years as a state legislator and in Congress. This will be the first time I’ll be in the majority," Rep. Soto said. "We have a huge responsibility to put a check on the Trump Administration."
Democrats flipped nearly 40 House seats from Republicans in the midterm elections, regaining control for the first time since 2011.
"It means we can push a Democratic agenda forward," Rep. Demings explained.
The big question is, when the parties divided control of Congress, can anything get accomplished? Demings is hopeful.
“When we push meaningful legislation, we’re able to pass it in the House, that those in the Senate will clearly see the benefits to the American people, and will come to the table and get some things done," she said.
Spectrum News Digital Producer Christie Zizo contributed to this report.