Democrats select Maryland's Steny Hoyer to return as U.S. House majority leader; Pelosi nominated for speaker

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the longest-serving House member in Maryland history, was selected by Democratic colleagues Wednesday to serve for a second time as majority leader — the No. 2 position under the speaker.

When the new House is sworn in next year, Hoyer, 79, will return to the post he held from 2007 to 2011.

The Southern Maryland lawmaker, who has long eyed the job of speaker, chose to avoid an intraparty skirmish with former speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. Democrats nominated her Wednesday to reclaim that post after the party regained control of the House in the Nov. 6 elections.

Hoyer was selected by acclamation — a form of unanimous consent. His name was placed into nomination by Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat who is expected to be chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the new Congress.

"I am honored to have been chosen by my Democratic colleagues to return to the position of House majority leader," Hoyer said in a statement after his selection.

He said Americans "want to see us return their government to the people and ensure that Congress is transparent, accountable, and responsive. They want to see health care and prescription drug prices go down, and they want to see wages go up. Now it is up to us to deliver results, and our majority will be focused relentlessly on doing exactly that."

Unlike the majority leader, the speaker is an institutional position and must be approved by the whole House; the majority leader is picked only by party members. The speaker is second in line, behind the vice president, in assuming the presidency if a president cannot serve.

The vote on Pelosi will occur when Congress convenes in the first week of January.

"I guarantee you Nancy Pelosi will have the votes," Cummings said. "She's a great woman and a great leader."

A small group of newly elected Democrats had said they hoped Pelosi — a Republican political target in red states — would be challenged for speaker. But she and Hoyer breezed through their party votes.

Their backers said they wanted an experienced team to stand up to Republican President Donald Trump.

The vote on Pelosi was 203-32.

"I'm just inspired by it all," Pelosi said. "I couldn't be more honored."

Hoyer, currently the Democratic whip, has gained favor with Democratic members over the years by traveling around the country to help raise campaign money. Two weeks before the vote, Hoyer aides said that two-thirds of the caucus had signed a letter supporting his candidacy.

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