U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski on Wednesday said he will not back Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House unless she agrees to a series of rules changes to make it easier to bring bipartisan legislation to the floor and other reforms.
“At this point, I’m not voting for Nancy Pelosi,” Lipinski, D-Ill., told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Lipinski is part of a nine-member group — all members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus — who met with Pelosi on Wednesday to discuss their proposals to, among other items, weaken the power of House leaders and committee chairs — and strengthen the hands of rank-and-file GOP and Democratic members.
Pelosi, the Democratic leader, is waging a campaign within the House Democratic ranks to become speaker when Democrats take control of the House in January.
House Democrats are grappling with how to open up leadership to younger members and loosen the traditional power to call the shots given to the speaker by both the Democrats and Republicans alike.
Pelosi, 78, of California, who became the first female speaker when Democrats won the House in 2006, is a liberal who raised millions of dollars for Democratic House campaigns — including for Illinois freshmen Sean Casten, 46, and Lauren Underwood, 32. Both remain uncommitted on who they will back as speaker.
Democrats vote on their leaders for the new Congress on Nov. 28; the entire House votes on a speaker in January.
Each House Democratic faction — including freshmen from swing districts, progressives and centrist Democrats like Lipinski — have more leverage if Pelosi needs their votes to become speaker.
Among Illinois House Democrats, Rep. Bill Foster is the only hard “no” vote on Pelosi.
“We’re waiting to hear back on some of these proposed reforms to see what sort of ideas that Nancy Pelosi and Jim McGovern come back to us with,” Lipinski said. McGovern, a Democrat from Maine, is in line to become chair of the House Rules Committee. The panel is powerful because it dictates the legislation that gets a vote on the House floor.
“We are not close at this point to having the commitment to actually making these, reforming the rules,” Lipinski said.
After meeting with Lipinski’s group, Pelosi said in a statement that “Democrats will restore transparency. … We will empower the committees by strengthening the path from markup to the floor, modernize the discharge petition process, and make it easier for bipartisan amendments and ideas to get a fair vote.”
An aid familiar with the negotiations said Pelosi will give the group a written counter proposal by Friday. No one has surfaced to challenge Pelosi.
The Problem Solvers Caucus is associated with No Labels, a group advocating for more bipartisanship. Super PACS related to No Labels pumped more than $700,000 into Lipinski’s March Democratic primary campaign.
Illinois Delegation notes: In leadership elections, Senate Democrats again picked Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to be Whip, the No. 2 position with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, remaining in the top spot. Meanwhile, Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., launched a push to be named chairman of the Energy subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rush is the longest serving member of the Illinois delegation.