House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not accustomed to the word she’s been hearing far more frequently in recent days: “no.”
Over the past two weeks, Pelosi has faced a series of subtle but significant challenges to her authority — revolts from Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Blue Dog Coalition and politically vulnerable first- and second-term members.
The dynamic stems from an “every man for himself” attitude developing in the Democratic Caucus rather than a loss of respect for Pelosi, according to a senior Democratic aide. But it’s making Pelosi’s life — and efforts to maintain Democratic unity — harder.
And it’s noteworthy, in part, because Pelosi’s signature strength has been a firmer hand than past Democratic leaders — an aptitude for wielding raw power in a consensus-minded caucus.
But her inability — or unwillingness — to dictate when Rep. Charles Rangel would resign his Ways and Means Committee chairmanship and who would replace him is one sign that she is commanding the caucus with less authority.
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