Democrats back Pelosi for US Congress speaker role

Bill to protect special counsel including Robert Mueller blocked on Senate floor again

Nancy Pelosi is hoping to repeat history by becoming the only female speaker of the US House of Representatives for the second time.  Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Nancy Pelosi is hoping to repeat history by becoming the only female speaker of the US House of Representatives for the second time. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

 

Nancy Pelosi was endorsed by her own party to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives in a private vote yesterday, a move that delivers a significant boost for the de facto Democratic leader ahead of a full vote in January.

Pelosi (78) is hoping to repeat history by becoming the only female speaker of the House of Representatives for the second time when the next Congress convenes in January. Ms Pelosi became the first female speaker in 2007 but lost the gavel after Republicans won back control of the chamber in the 2010 midterm elections.

Though Ms Pelosi has been the subject of criticism from some on the progressive wing of the party, she succeeded in winning the support of a majority of the party following a successful midterm election campaign which saw Democrats win a decisive majority in the House. She ran for the position uncontested. A full vote of the House of Representatives will take place on January 3rd to elect outgoing speaker Paul Ryan’s successor.

Democrats also chose other members of their leadership team at their meeting on Wednesday. New York congressman Hakeem Jeffries (47), seen as a rising star within the party, was elected chairman of the Democratic caucus.

Meanwhile, in the Senate three senators attempted to push a vote on protecting special counsel Robert Mueller but it ultimately failed in the chamber.

Senator Jeff Flake, a retiring Republican, joined forces with two Democrats – Chris Coons of Delaware and Cory Booker of New Jersey – calling for legislation to be introduced to protect the work of Mr Mueller. But the Bill, which needed unanimous consent to pass, was blocked by Republican Mike Lee.

Speaking on the senate floor, Mr Flake quoted Mr Trump’s tweets this week criticising Mr Mueller. “Why shouldn’t we be up in arms about that,” he said. The outgoing senator has been one of the most frequent critics of the president.

Boost for Republicans

More than three weeks after the midterm elections, Republicans received a boost after their candidate in the Mississippi senate run-off election won the contest, boosting the party’s majority in the Senate.

Cindy Hyde-Smith, whose campaign received national attention after she joked about attending a “public hanging”, defeated Democrat Mike Espy, who had hoped to become the first African-American senator from Mississippi since Reconstruction. Ms Hyde Smith won by a margin of 54.4 per cent to 45.6 per cent. Her victory cements Republicans’ control of the senate, which has seen the party increase its majority to 53-47 following the midterm elections.

Ms Hyde Smith, who closely allied herself to Mr Trump during the campaign, was boosted by the president’s endorsement. Mr Trump travelled to Mississippi and held two rallies in support of the 59-year-old former state agriculture commissioner on Monday.

Speaking on Tuesday night after Mr Espy conceded, Ms Hyde-Smith thanked Mr Trump for his support.

“This win tonight, this victory, it’s about our conservative values,” Ms Hyde-Smith said. “It’s about the things that mean the most to all of us Mississippians: our faith, our family.”