Rep. Stephen Lynch, one of the 16 Democrats who signed a letter vowing not to vote for Rep. Nancy Pelosi for House speaker on the floor, announced Friday that he’ll support Pelosi, following what he described as “one of the best conversations” he’s had with her since he was in Congress.
“I believe Leader Pelosi understands not only the job that needs to be done, but also how to bring disparate voices in our party together to make good things happen for the people we represent,” the Massachusetts Democratic congressman said in a statement. “I’m happy to be supporting her and look forward to the upcoming session.”
For the vote on January 3, Pelosi needs to win a majority of the full House to become speaker — a magic number of 218 votes, if all members vote for a nominee.
With 235 Democrats expected in the next session of Congress, Pelosi can afford to lose 17 Democrats and still win the speakership. If some of those 17 Democrats vote “present” instead, it’s possible she could win with fewer than 218 votes, due to House rules.
The flips by Lynch and Rep. Brian Higgins of New York bring the number of signatories on the anti-Pelosi letter down to 14, though others who didn’t sign the letter have also said or signaled they won’t support Pelosi. All eyes will be on those Democrats — many of them incoming freshmen who campaigned on opposing Pelosi — and how they vote in January.
Lynch said in his statement he got reassurances from Pelosi that Democrats will prioritize the needs of average working families, and that she will help “re-empower” the House Oversight Committee, where Lynch is poised to become the next chairman of the national security subcommittee.
Lynch had previously signaled he was changing his mind, telling reporters the week before last that he was persuadable. Higgins, who also signed the letter, announced last month that he will now support Pelosi.