Democrats worry Covid will cost Pelosi her job as speaker – and could hand Republicans top job in House

DEMOCRATS fear that coronavirus issues could prevent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from winning reelection – and that Republicans could take control of the lower house of Congress. 

Heading into the Jan. 3 floor vote for House speaker, Pelosi is working with a narrower Democratic majority in light of the party’s losses in the November election.


Covid-19 poses an additional hurdle for Pelosi because members must physically be on the House floor for the vote, and cannot do so remotely as was allowed during the pandemic.

Pelosi cannot lose as many Democratic votes as she did in 2018, and in the worst case scenario for the party, the House could wind up with a Republican speaker, The Hill reported on Saturday. 

“Let's say, just theoretically, we had six or eight people out with Covid and the Republicans have none,” Democratic Representative John Yarmuth told the media outlet.

“They probably could elect [Kevin] McCarthy,” he said, referring to the House minority leader.

Two years ago, 15 Democrats opposed Pelosi.

The Democratic Party appears to be on pace to win 222 of the 435 seats in the House. 

A majority is at minimum 218 seats, meaning Democrats are hanging on barely. 

At least three moderate members of the Democratic Party have already stated they do not plan to vote for Pelosi—Jared Golden, Conor Lamb and Elissa Slotkin. 

Several Democrats have been away from Washington, DC, this year due to health concerns not related to Covid-19.

If the virus prevents any more Democrats from traveling to the Capitol, Pelosi’s reelection would be put further at risk. 

“Covid is a wild card,” Democratic Representative Hank Johnson told The Hill.

“If we have sick members who cannot come back, and we only have a four-vote majority, it throws our entire advent of the 117th Congress in peril—a smooth advent.”

This week, as the US grapples with a surge of winter coronavirus cases, five House members were infected with Covid-19.

A total of 35 lawmakers have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. 

While some Democrats are concerned Pelosi could lose her the top job in the House, many in the party are confident she will maintain her stronghold. 

Democratic Representative Jim Himes told The Hill that the “usual suspects who make it part of their brand” to vote against Pelosi may act differently considering the pandemic.

“I think there's an awareness—and there's certainly a message coming from within the caucus—that this may not be a year for the usual branding,” Himes said. 

“We're a fractious bunch, but Pelosi's very, very good at what she does, so she's going to earn her money.”

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