Lawmakers re-elect congressional leaders; Pelosi aims to stay
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lawmakers in both parties on Wednesday re-elected most of their leaders in the U.S. Congress, while Nancy Pelosi ended some suspense by announcing she would seek to remain the top Democrat in the House of Representatives in a vote on November 29.
In the Senate, Republicans re-elected Mitch McConnell as their leader, notwithstanding his failure to achieve his two top goals in the elections, defeating President Barack Obama and gaining a Republican majority in the Senate.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who headed the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, ended up with a promotion, getting elected without opposition to replace retiring Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona as the chamber's minority whip.
House Speaker John A. Boehner was re-elected as expected to lead his party in the House, which means the full House will re-elect him as speaker in January.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, currently the Republican conference vice chair, defeated Tom Price to be head of the House Republican Policy Committee.
McMorris Rodgers, the highest ranking woman in Republican leadership, served as House liaison for the party's unsuccessful presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.
The 112th Congress, now in a post-election lame duck session, will become the 113th Congress in January before President Barack Obama is inaugurated for his second term. The leaders chosen now, barring resignations or other unexpected developments, will serve through January, 2015.
Pelosi, like McConnell, fell short of her election ambitions last week as Republicans maintained their hold on the U.S. House of Representatives.
But she ended months of speculation about whether she would seek another two-year term as House Democratic leader, saying she had decided in the past 24 hours after consulting with colleagues and family.
First elected as the top House Democrat on November 2002, Pelosi's reign has included four years as the chamber's first and only woman speaker. It ended in 2011 after Republicans won control of the chamber and made John Boehner speaker.
As of early Wednesday, Pelosi's decision on whether to seek another term as Democratic leader remained a well-kept secret with top aides saying it remained unclear what she would do.
She first told fellow House Democrats at a private meeting and then publicly announced it at a news conference.
"Being actively involved in politics at this level is really insatiable," said Pelosi.
Many Democrats had urged her to stay and she seems certain to win the job in House Democratic leadership elections set for November 29.
Pelosi said it should be better for House Democrats the next two years, given the defeat of a number of Republicans backed by the Tea Party.
"The anti-government ideologues - some of them are gone," she said.
Pelosi bristled when asked by a reporter about the top three Democratic leadership spots being held by members in their 70s, and if that prevents an injection of younger blood into the ranks.
Amid hisses and boos from fellow House Democratic women, Pelosi asked if anyone had posed that question to McConnell, 70. None did at his news conference.
Senate Democrats re-elected their leadership team, which includes Harry Reid as leader and Dick Durbin as his assistant leader.
Reid has said that he would like to eliminate procedural roadblocks that can prevent the Senate from even considering a bill.
But Reid has said he would still allow Republicans to require 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to end debate on a piece of legislation and bring it up for a vote on passage.
(This story corrected Kyl's state affiliation to Arizona from Texas in paragraph three)