House Dems settle leadership dispute

HOUSE DEMS SETTLE LEADERSHIP DISPUTE…. The last thing House Democrats wanted to do was start the post-election season with a bitter, intra-party dispute over leadership posts. But one has nevertheless been simmering on the Hill over the last week, with four people vying for three posts.

The House minority traditionally has three leadership positions: Minority Leader, Minority Whip, and Conference Chair. Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is slated to get the top slot, and Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) will apparently stay on in his current post. But outgoing Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and outgoing Majority Whip James Clyburn both want to be Minority Whip.

Pelosi signaled the other day her desire to strike some kind of deal. Last night, one came together.

Top House Democrats said late Friday night that they had settled on an arrangement that avoided a divisive fight for the No. 2 position in the party when it reverts to the minority in January.

In a statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would nominate Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina to be the No. 3 Democrat when the party holds an internal party election on Wednesday.

In other words, it was a game of musical chairs, in which someone was going to get left out, so Dems added a chair. Hoyer will be Whip and Clyburn will get a newly-created position.

It’s not clear, at least not yet, exactly what this new leadership post will entail — or what it’ll be called — but Pelosi’s office said last night that the post will rank above caucus chair in the hierarchy, keeping Clyburn at #3. Larson gets to stay in the leadership, though his post is slightly less important now, and Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), who was concerned about getting squeezed out, will remain as conference vice chair.

In the process, Dems have avoided “a divisive leadership battle” and will vote to approve this new slate on Wednesday.

If only negotiating with Republicans were this easy.