Pocan says ‘odds are’ Pelosi will become next House speaker

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan speaks outside the Madison City-County building during a National Day of Action rally on gun violence attended by community leaders and local activists on June 29, 2016 in Madison, WI. PHOTO BY SAIYNA BASHIR

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan says he’s betting Dem leader Nancy Pelosi will become the next House speaker.

The Town of Vermont Dem’s comments Monday came after news reports showed 16 House Dems signed onto a letter pledging they’d oppose Pelosi, though the reports indicate no members from Wisconsin signed onto it.

“If there is anyone who can count votes, it is Nancy Pelosi, so I would rule nothing out,” Pocan said. “I would say that odds are Nancy Pelosi is the next House speaker at this point.”

Pocan told reporters at a news conference in his Madison office that he won’t announce where he stands on Pelosi until after he meets with her individually — hopefully the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, he said. He met last week with Pelosi in his capacity as the Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair about committee appointments and providing new opportunities to incoming CPC members.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, one of four House Dems who opposed Pelosi last time as leader, didn’t sign onto the letter and a spokesman said the La Crosse Dem is “still weighing his support” for Pelosi. Kind is meeting with her later this month, per his office.

Kind at a WisPolitics.com event last week in D.C. cast doubt on the California Dem’s re-election as speaker, saying she has a “math problem” that the party needs to “come to grips with” quickly.

Meanwhile, Pocan says he doesn’t anticipate the Congressional Progressive Caucus will endorse any Dem’s bid for leadership elections.

He also said there’s a “huge difference” between the conservative GOP House Freedom Caucus and the 90-member CPC, which will make up about 40 percent of the Dem caucus next session.

“The big difference is they’re a caucus of saying no; we’re largely a caucus of saying yes. We have lots of progressive policy ideas we want to see enacted,” he said. “And in some of those we understand we don’t have broad enough support yet … so will there be times we might not be happy we’re not going far enough? Of course.”

Still, he said the CPC’s outside group, the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center, is working to expand its policy and outreach staff to hone in on key issues the caucus supports, including more polling, focus groups and data collection to support “Medicare for All.”

“I never saw the Freedom Caucus do that, they usually sat in the corner of the room and grumpily said no. We’re the folks trying to build power to yes,” he said.

Pocan said he expects House Dems to prioritize better health care access, higher wages, improved infrastructure and tougher anti-corruption measures over the first 100 days of the new session.

Those are issues Dems ran on, he said, adding the caucus will “make sure we’re delivering on what delivered us the majority.”

See a WisconsinEye video of the news conference:
https://www.facebook.com/WisconsinEye/videos/252550718757148/?notif_id=1542656009108552¬if_t=live_video_explicit

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