Opponents of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's bid to reclaim the speaker's gavel were dealt a new set of blows Wednesday, as a pair of Democrats — including a longtime critic — publicly backed the California congresswoman.
Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on Wednesday threw her support behind Pelosi's campaign to be speaker in the next Congress.
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In a series of tweets Wednesday afternoon, Ocasio-Cortez, a rising star in the party, said that "so long as Leader Pelosi remains the most progressive candidate for Speaker, she can count on my support."
"I agree that our party should, and must, evolve our leadership," tweeted Ocasio-Cortez. "But changed leadership should reflect an actual, evolved mission; namely, an increased commitment to the middle + working class electorate that put us here. Otherwise it’s a just new figure with the same problems."
New York Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins, who told NBC News last week he would not vote for Pelosi in caucus or on the House floor in January 2019, also reversed course Wednesday.
Higgins had previously joined 15 other Democrats who signaled they would not vote for Pelosi and vowed to support new leadership. His decision to back Pelosi came shortly after Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio — who had publicly weighed the idea of launching a bid of her own to be speaker — said on Tuesday she would not, instead accepting the offer of a newly-created leadership post.
In a telephone interview with The Buffalo News on Wednesday, Higgins said he reversed course after speaking with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. He said Pelosi vowed to support his top two priorities: advancing an infrastructure overhaul bill early next year and allowing people to buy Medicare at the age of 50. Schumer also pledged to make the two priorities a goal for Senate Democrats during the new Congress.
Fudge said in a statement Pelosi had guaranteed her that black women, a loyal Democratic constituency, would be at “the decision-making table,” and that she would reinstate a subcommittee on elections, naming Fudge chair of that panel to work to uphold the Voting Rights Act.