A day after re-electing Rep. Nancy Pelosi to lead them in the next Congress, House Democrats rebuffed her effort Wednesday to elect a close ally to an important committee post.
In a closed-door meeting, Democrats voted 100-90 to make New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The loser was California Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Pelosi friend whose Silicon Valley district is near San Francisco, which Pelosi represents.
The vote attracted interest because it came amid grousing over this month’s elections, which saw House Democrats lose at least a dozen seats, and the problems the party had in reaching out to middle-class voters.
Though Pelosi retained her post as House minority leader without opposition, Wednesday’s vote raised questions about whether rank-and-file Democrats were in a mood to award a plum assignment to one of her close allies.
Pelosi had taken the unusual step for a leader of sending a letter supporting Eshoo to Democrats.
Pallone was supported by Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democratic leader and a long-time Pelosi rival.
The Energy and Commerce panel is coveted because of its jurisdiction over high-profile issues like health, environment and communications.