Ed. Note. On November 17 House Democrats re-elected Nancy Pelosi as their leader, a move which was surprising given the massive Democratic defeats in the 2010 mid-term elections.  The vote was 150 to 43 for Rep. Heath Shuler (NC).  Pelosi argued that she was such a target for Republicans because she has been so effective.  Some Republicans were pleased at this turn of events, suggesting that the "Fire Pelosi" slogan be changed to "Hire Pelosi."  Democrats also created a new position of Assistant Leader for Rep. Jim Clyburn (SC).

PRESS RELEASE from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

For Immediate Release
Pelosi Remarks at Press Availability Following Democratic Leadership Elections Today

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Assistant to the Speaker Chris Van Hollen, Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, and Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Xavier Becerra held a news conference this afternoon following their elections to new leadership positions in the 112th Congress. Below are the Speaker’s opening remarks and the question and answer session:

Speaker Pelosi Opening Remarks:

“Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  I wish all of America could have seen our Caucus today—and yesterday, as you mention, Mr. Chairman.  To hear the commitment that they have for fighting for the middle class, for saving Social Security, for honoring our men and women in uniform and building a future worthy of their sacrifice for our great country. 

“We are just going to speak briefly each of us.  But I am proud to be part of this leadership team.  Our consensus is that we go out there listening to the American people.  It’s about jobs.  It’s about reducing the deficit.  And it’s about fighting for the middle class.  So I look forward to doing that with this great leadership team.

“Let me make one special mention because we have a new position for Chris Van Hollen, who has been chosen to be the Ranking Member on the Budget Committee.  The budget many expect to be a statement of our national values.  I know that Chris Van Hollen will make that fight based on values, based on reducing the deficit, based on fighting for the middle class.  So I want to congratulate him on his new position.”   

* * *

Question and Answer Session:

Q: What do you say to Americans who may look at this and say, you know, it’s the same leadership now as it was before November 2nd. They thought they sent some message. What do you say to those voters?

Speaker Pelosi.  The message we received from the American people was that they want a job — they want jobs.  9.5% unemployment is a very tough screen to get through with any other message.  What we want to say to the American people is what Mr. Hoyer was saying, we want them to “Make It In America”  — to manufacture in our country so that their families can make it in America.

This is an experienced, diverse leadership team that is very strong.  It is a team that took us to victory in ’05 and ’06 and will take us to victory again.  In the meantime, I would say to the American people: “We extend a hand of friendship to the Republicans; we look forward to hearing their ideas on job creation and deficit reduction.” 

I hearken back to a President in my youth who inspired me, John F. Kennedy, who said, “We must not seek a Republican way or a Democratic way, we must find the right way” to go forward as we take our own responsibility for the future.  Now I have the privilege of serving under another young inspiring President of the United States, and I want the American people to know that we all strive to work together wherever possible in a bipartisan way to create jobs and reduce the deficit. 

And I’m very, very proud of our leadership team and proud of the role that Mr. Clyburn will serve as Assistant Leader.  He’s an icon in our country in terms of working for the middle class and a new change, Mr. Van Hollen as the ranking Member on the Budget Committee.  And I say then, how sad we are to lose Mr. Spratt, a very distinguished Member of Congress who always put forth a budget that was a statement of our national values, what’s important to our country was reflected there.  That’s what I would say.

Q: Madam Speaker, over 60 House Democrats lost in this cycle.  Your positive rating with independents from our last NBC poll stands at eight percent.  Why are you the best person to lead House Democrats in the current political landscape? 

Speaker Pelosi.  Well, let me put that in perspective. How would your ratings be if $75 million were spent against you?  Because I’m an effective leader, because we got the job done on health care and Wall Street reform and consumer protection, the list goes on.  Because they know that I’m the person that can attract the resources, both intellectual and otherwise, to take us to victory because I have done it before.  And so, again, you take 9.5% unemployment, you throw a dollar bill--$75 million dollars spent against one person and I’d like to say what your ratings would be.

But I feel confident and I’m so proud of our Members and so many of them [who lost] have said to me that they want to keep the door open to running again and to work with this leadership team.

Congressman Xavier Becerra.  Can I just add one thing?  I urge you to speak to the overwhelming number of our membership who elected Nancy Pelosi to be our leader because I believe as each and every one of them has said, that she has led us and she has led us to historic heights.  And many of us believe that we are prepared to take this country to even greater heights and many of us spoke very loudly that the person who could do that here in the House of Representatives for this Democratic Caucus is the woman who is named Nancy Pelosi. 

Chairman John Larson. They know her will.  Most importantly, they know her heart. And that’s what was felt today—the heartfelt feeling of this Caucus behind this great leader.

Thank you very much.

Speaker Pelosi.  We have to go to work now.  Thank you all.

WEEKLY UPDATE from Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC)

November 22, 2010
Shuler Takes Stand as Moderate Leader, Challenges Pelosi and Gains Chairmanship of Blue Dogs

Washington, D.C. - Last week, Congressman Heath Shuler (D-Waynesville) stood out as a strong, moderate leader in the U.S. Congress.

On Tuesday, Rep. Shuler was elected as the leader (Co-Chair for Administration) of the fiscally responsible Democratic Blue Dog Coalition. The team that will lead the Coalition’s efforts in the 112th Congress also includes Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) as Co-Chair for Policy and Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR) as Co-Chair for Communications.

Accepting the new role, Rep. Shuler said, "The Blue Dogs will continue to be a voice in Congress for the large majority of Americans who expect us to come together to develop common-sense solutions to the serious problems facing this country. This isn't about party politics; it’s about doing what's right for the country, and I am proud to be a leader in that effort."

Also last week, Rep. Shuler challenged Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the position of Minority Leader in the 112th U.S. Congress. Congressman Shuler was greeted with strong support from across the Democratic Caucus, winning the votes of 43 of his colleagues.

"I am proud of the support I received from my fellow Democrats," said Rep. Shuler, who was nominated by Blue Dog Representatives Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Mike Ross (D-AR) and seconded by Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC). "It was never about winning; it was about giving the moderates a voice in this Caucus. We are strong because we are a big tent party, not in spite of it. Today we proved that we will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the next Congress, and I am proud to be a leader in that effort."

Reflecting on the week, Rep. Shuler remarked, "I have always prided myself on my ability to work with people regardless of political affiliation, and I look forward to getting to work in the next Congress to develop middle-of-the-road solutions to the problems facing this country."