A member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has issued a warning against leadership changes introduced by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), suggesting her proposals could decrease the group’s power while seemingly increasing her own.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), who is planning to run for the position of chairman of the CBC, criticized Pelosi in a letter he wrote over Thanksgiving break. The CBC has traditionally been very supportive of Pelosi. However, it is unclear how popular she currently is among all its members.
“The reality is that, from the perspective of the CBC, some changes may be beneficial while others may have severe unintended consequences that could diminish our power as a caucus within the Democratic Caucus,” Richmond wrote, according to Politico.
Pelosi, who has been leading House Democrats since 2007, laid out her proposals in a letter addressed to her Democratic colleagues on November 21:
There's hard work ahead. House Dems are up to the challenge before America. Here's how we'll move forward together: https://t.co/R5MejyP2N6
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) November 22, 2016
Much of the outcry surrounding Pelosi’s controversial, proposed changes is around the fact that she is seeking to empower junior members of Congress — by making certain positions available only to lawmakers who have served fewer than three or four terms — while she and Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD) will remain in their current posts.
Clyburn has served for 12 terms and Hoyer is currently serving his 17th consecutive term. Pelosi’s proposal would make the assistant leader role, which Clyburn currently occupies, available only to a member who has served less than three terms; the original proposal stated that the position should be filled by a member with five or more terms before being changed to three. However, the change would only take affect when Clyburn leaves from his current post.
According to the Hill, Richmond wrote, “I understand responsibilities will have to be reallocated in order to make room at the leadership table for others, but we must make sure that we do not send the message that, of the top three leaders, the Assistant Leader bears the blame for our losses.”
He added, “as a general note, the proposal creates a number of positions that can only be filled by Members who have served fewer than three or four terms. However, we have a number of Members who have been in Congress five or more terms, but have not been able to serve in leadership roles because of stagnation at the top of our leadership structure.”
The timing of Richmond’s criticism of Pelosi is also important to note, considering both of them are in the running for leadership positions during Wednesday’s House Democratic elections. Richmond is seeking to head the CBC while Pelosi wants to remain in her post as Minority Leader.
Pelosi, 76, is being challenged by Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), 43, who has also accused of her of trying to “further consolidate her power.” In one of several letters criticizing Pelosi over her poor leadership, Ryan wrote, “I am very disappointed in Leader Pelosi’s proposed caucus reforms which are seemingly designed to further consolidate her power over the caucus.”
— Tim Ryan (@TimRyan) November 23, 2016
President-elect Donald Trump’s victory dashed Democrats’ hopes of regaining the House, as Republicans maintained control of both sides of Capitol Hill.
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