Government

Iowa congressional Democrats still mum on choice for U.S. House Speaker

U.S. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) (L) speaks next to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during fellow House democrats news conference after Republicans pulled the American Health Care Act bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act act known as Obamacare, prior to a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2017.REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) (L) speaks next to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during fellow House democrats news conference after Republicans pulled the American Health Care Act bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act act known as Obamacare, prior to a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2017.REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

CEDAR RAPIDS — Three Democrats who will be a part of the Iowa congressional delegation have pledged to support Rep. Steny Hoyer for majority leader when the party elects new leadership Wednesday.

Citing the “considerable opportunity to effect change and great responsibility to get things done on behalf of our constituents” because Democrats will be in the House majority, 2nd Congressional District Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa City and representatives-elect Abby Finkenauer of Dubuque and Cindy Axne of West Des Moines signed a letter of support earlier this month pledging to back Hoyer.

The letter was signed by 184 Democrats, short of the 218 votes the 70-year-old Maryland congressman needs to win the leadership post.

Hoyer is the choice of Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, who is expected to be elected speaker.

However, centrist Democrats who oppose her leadership have indicated they might be willing to back her in exchange for her accepting younger representatives as majority leader and whip. Pelosi has given no indication of being willing to replace her longtime deputies, Hoyer and the party’s whip, James Clyburn of South Carolina.

“We will need a steady, experienced leader” who will prepare members for future leadership opportunities, the current and incoming House members wrote.

However, Loebsack and Finkenauer — as they did during their campaigns — declined to say who they will support for the top leadership position, speaker of the House. Their staffs did not respond Tuesday to questions about who they intend to support.

Finkenauer, who will represent the 1st Congressional District, repeatedly said no one other than reporters was interested in who she favored for the post. Finkenauer and Axne are on RollCall.com’s “undecided or dodged Pelosi question” list.

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“So I’ve been doing what I told folks in the campaign what I was going to do,” Finkenauer said Monday. “That is having conversations with whoever wants the job in any of these positions. Those conversations are ongoing and I’m looking forward to having more of them.”

Loebsack, who will be in his seventh term, said he is “open-minded” and willing to consider a younger colleague for speaker.

“There is a whole crop of younger folks I’ve gotten to know over the years,” he said at a candidate forum. “Clearly right now, I think you’re seeing within the Democratic Party a lot of folks who would like to see some change. It would be generational, for sure.”

Axne, who will represent the 3rd Congressional District, also has been non-committal, saying she wanted a speaker who is “going to stand up to any administration.”

“I’m going to make sure that when I get to Washington and that time comes I’ll be voting for whomever is the best representative for the people here in Iowa,” she said in a debate.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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