Leadership squeeze could push top Democrat out of key role in the House

If Democrats are in the minority, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., could fall victim to a congressional squeeze play within the Democratic leadership.

Hoyer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., have been atop the House Democratic leadership ranks for years now. Democrats have three primary leadership slots in the majority. However, Democrats would drop to only two leadership posts if they are in the minority.

Rank and file Democrats are increasingly thinking that Pelosi may yet stay on as minority leader in the narrowly divided House. Clyburn has indicated he intends to remain in leadership.

The GOP must win 218 seats to secure a majority in the 435-seat body, but the Republicans are favored to do so, having won 217 seats as of Wednesday to Democrats’ 209.

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The current House Democratic Caucus includes more minorities and tilts to the left. There is significant support for Clyburn among those factions — particularly among members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

President Trump Addresses Joint Session of Congress in Washington, D.C., Feb. 2, 2017 as House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi listen.
(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Hoyer was always a centrist. There are not many of those Democrats left.

So if control of the House flips, Hoyer could get pushed out of an official leadership position.

Hoyer faced a similar squeeze play in late 2010 when Democrats lost the House. However, after some scrambling, there was more support for Hoyer in that Congress. There were more moderates and “Blue Dog” Democrats at the time. Hoyer was able to keep his leadership post then. Hoyer survived and became the minority whip.

Pelosi then created a tertiary leadership post for Clyburn: assistant leader.

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It is possible Clyburn could resume that role, but Hoyer could also be subject to the potential for a squeeze play if all three members try to remain in leadership with only two major positions available.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accompanied by House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., left speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Other Democrats, in addition to Pelosi, have reportedly been laying groundwork for a leadership role. A Democratic aide recently told Fox News Digital that Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., had been looking into seeking the role. The aide also said House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., appears to have more support than Schiff for the post.

Others potentially eyeing the gig include Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who visited 66 districts in 27 states campaigning for other Democrats this cycle – the kind of thing someone vying for a leadership post would do – and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., who also kept a busy campaign schedule.

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President Biden, however, appeared to express support for Pelosi in a call after the midterm election results started coming, when he asked that she stay on for his final two years in office. Pelosi has rebuffed questions about her political future, but the 82-year-old is rumored to be considering retirement.

“I hope you stick,” Biden is said to have told her in a phone call. “I know it’s family first, but I hope you stick.”

Fox News’ Thomas Phippen contributed to this report.