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GOP support for Pelosi as speaker? Don't hold your breath

Wondering if Republicans will push Nancy Pelosi over the top in her drive to become House speaker next year? Despite supportive words from President Donald Trump, it's implausible.

Twice since Democrats won House control in last month's elections, Trump has said the California Democrat deserves to regain the post she held from 2007 to early 2011 as the first female speaker. He's offered to help her win GOP votes, if needed, when the new House elects its speaker Jan. 3. One Republican lawmaker says he'd consider helping her.

Still, it's a far-fetched scenario that she's publicly rejected.

It's rare for lawmakers to vote for the other party's speaker nominees, though there's an uncanny connection between the last time it happened and one of Pelosi's leading foes. Even a seemingly harmless vote of "present" by a Republican would help Pelosi because she'd need fewer votes to win a majority, leaving anyone who did that vulnerable to a future GOP primary election challenge.

___

WHY WOULD REPUBLICANS EVEN CONSIDER HELPING PELOSI?

It's largely about 2020. The GOP has spent tens of millions on campaign ads over the years, political consultants say, portraying Pelosi as a dangerous radical from San Francisco, her liberal hometown, and linking Democratic candidates to her. While the GOP lost the House last month anyway despite featuring Pelosi in ads, many Republicans would love to use her again in the 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.

___

THEN WHY NOT ASSIST HER?

For a Republican, helping Pelosi — even by voting "present" or missing next month's roll call — would be tantamount to begging a GOP primary challenger to oust them in 2020. Pelosi is that loathed by conservative voters.

"It would be an absolute career killer," said Jon McHenry, a GOP consultant.

The vote for speaker is the first House vote in each new Congress, when lawmakers demonstrate their party loyalty. For most, helping the other side is unthinkable.

"It would be like Democrats voting for Newt Gingrich," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. Gingrich, a Republican from Georgia, became speaker in 1995 after using combative, obstructionist tactics to lead Republicans to their first House majority in 40 years. He was despised by Democrats.

___

A RARITY

The last time a lawmaker voted for the other major party's speaker nominee was 2001. Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, an eccentric dissident who'd long clashed with party leaders, backed Ohio Republican Dennis Hastert for speaker.

Traficant was expelled from the House in 2002 following his conviction on corruption charges. Imprisoned, he ran for re-election that year as an independent but lost to a former aide, Tim Ryan. Ryan is now an Ohio Democratic congressman and organizer of the effort to dump Pelosi, saying it's time for fresh leadership.

"There's no correlation there," Ryan said of his opposition to Pelosi and his past connection to Traficant, who died in 2014. Ryan said while opposed to Pelosi, he would not vote for a Republican.

A crossover vote occurred at least one other time, according to the House historian's office. Rep. Thomas Schall, R-Minn., voted for Rep. Champ Clark, D-Mo., to be speaker in 1917, saying he wanted to show U.S. unity on the eve of World War I.

___

PELOSI'S PROBLEM ...

... is arithmetic, not popularity among Democrats. An overwhelming majority want her to win the gavel, while a disgruntled handful wants to get rid of her.

When the chamber votes, she'll need a majority of all House members — 218, assuming everyone shows up and Republicans unanimously oppose her. Lawmakers who abstain, vote "present" or are absent don't count.

Democrats will have a 234-198 majority next year, with three races still uncalled by The Associated Press. As of now, Pelosi could lose up to 16 Democrats and still become speaker if Republicans vote "no" and everyone votes for a candidate.

Sixteen Democrats signed a letter saying it's time to change their leadership, and several others promised during their campaigns to oppose her. In a secret ballot for the party's speaker nominee, 203 Democrats voted for her, though three were delegates from territories and can't vote next month for speaker.

Her party's leader since 2003, Pelosi, 78, has won over some opponents and has nearly a month to make the additional deals she'll need to get the votes.

___

WILL SHE WIN?

Pelosi has said she'll be elected with Democrats alone. She rejected the idea of winning with Republican support, saying, "Oh, please, no, never, never, never."

Ryan and Pelosi's other opponents say they doubt she'd seek Republican backing, citing her long career as a stalwart Democrat. Yet some foes suggest it's not out of the realm of possibility.

"Who knows?" Ryan said. "At this point she doesn't have enough Democratic votes."

Asked if Pelosi might seek a deal for GOP votes if she had no other alternative, spokesman Drew Hammill said, "Your premise is faulty. Nancy Pelosi will have the votes."

Prevailing with GOP backing would put Pelosi at risk of alienating liberal voters and heighten their anger against Democrats who opposed her, fueling 2020 primary challenges. It could also entice Republicans to try a seldom-used procedural vote to remove her from the speakership.

___

A WILLING REPUBLICAN?

Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., said he'd consider helping Pelosi if they could negotiate changes in House rules to help the minority party get amendments and bills considered. The chamber's majority has long had control over the agenda.

Reed is a leader of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers. While Pelosi promised changes to get support from the Democrats in that group, Reed said he hasn't heard from her.

Voting for her would be "toxic" among Republicans, Reed said, adding, "Speaking of this has caused a tremendous amount of heartburn on my side."

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  • An Obama-era plan to feature Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill is crumbling. On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the 2020 unveiling of the note, timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of a Constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote, has been canceled. >> Girl, 3, reaching out to mural of Harriet Tubman caught in emotional photo He pushed back the redesign of the $20 bill at least nine years, offering no guarantees that it will bear the likeness of the celebrated abolitionist. “The primary reason we have looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues,” Mnuchin said in response to questions by Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. “Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028. The $10 bill and the $50 bill will come out with new features beforehand.” Pressley said it is time for America to better reflect who built it. “People other than white men built this county. And Secretary Mnuchin agrees, yet he refuses to update our currency,” she said in a tweet. “Harriet Tubman, Marian Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt are iconic Americans and it’s past time that our money reflects that.” >> See the tweet here Andy Ambrose, executive director of the Tubman Museum in Macon, Georgia, called the decision “unfortunate” and noted that Tubman was long denied a military pension before Congress approved a $20 monthly payment. “Harriet Tubman deserves this national recognition that has been long delayed, as she is one of the most courageous, inspiring women in American history,” he said. “But this is part and parcel of the history of this country and the way in which African American women have been, and continue to be, treated and unacknowledged.” Susan Ades Stone, the executive director of the organization that initially proposed putting Tubman on the $20 bill, said Mnuchin’s punt is a calculated political move directed by President Donald Trump. She called for Congress to intervene. >> Read more trending news  “We’re not surprised that Secretary Mnuchin may be kicking the design reveal of the $20 bill to sometime beyond the potential interference of a Trump presidency,” Stone said. “The Tubman $20 design was supposed to be unveiled by 2020 and, even under the most optimistic timetable set out by the Obama administration, was never expected to be in our hands before 2026.” It was in the waning days of the Obama administration that then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the redesigned bills. Stone’s group, Women on 20s, had submitted a petition to the White House in 2015, urging Obama to consider replacing Jackson on the $20 bill with the image of the former slave. Women on 20s also had considered Rosa Parks, who sparked the beginning of the modern civil rights movement; former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt; and Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. 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Tubman rescued approximately 70 people on more than 13 trips back to Maryland, according to Kate Clifford Larson’s 2003 biography, “Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero.” It has been nearly a century since one of the faces on U.S. paper currency has changed. In 1928 — for reasons that remain unclear — Grover Cleveland was replaced on the $20 bill by Jackson, America’s seventh president. Ironically, Jackson opposed the use of paper currency. Those who wanted to see him replaced pointed out that he owned hundreds of slaves who worked his Hermitage plantation in Nashville. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 authorized Jackson to grant unsettled land west of the Mississippi River to southern tribes who agreed to give up their ancestral homelands. The mass removal of the Cherokee tribe to Oklahoma became known as the Trail of Tears. >> On AJC.com: Trump White House putting the brakes on Tubman on $20 Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump praised Jackson, whom he considers a hero and is said to have modeled his populist administration after. A portrait of Jackson hangs in the Oval Office, and Trump placed a wreath on his tomb to mark Jackson’s 250th birthday in 2018. He has said that the decision to put Tubman on the currency was “pure political correctness” and proposed putting her portrait on the $2 bill, which has the lowest circulation volume of any bill. Stone rejects that idea. “Now it is up to Congress to act on the Harriet Tubman Tribute Bill that is presently before the House Financial Services Committee, to compel the Treasury Department to accelerate the timetable and at the very least show us a Tubman bill design in time for the centennial of the 19th Amendment in 2020,” Stone said. “As we’ve been saying for years, symbols do matter.”
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Washington Insider

  • For the second time in three days, a federal judge rejected arguments by lawyers for President Donald Trump, refusing to block subpoenas issued by a U.S. House committee for financial records held by U.S. banks which did business with the President's companies. 'I think the courts are saying that we are going to uphold the rule of law,' said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which has subpoenaed information from the Mazars USA accounting firm. Wednesday's ruling from federal Judge Edgardo Ramos, put on the bench by President Barack Obama, related to subpoenas by two other House panels to Deutsche Bank and Capital One, for records related to Mr. Trump's businesses. Lawyers for the President, the Trump Organization, and Mr. Trump's family had asked that the subpoenas be quashed - the judge made clear that wasn't happening, and also rejected a request to stay his ruling to allow for an appeal. As in investigative matters involving the President's tax returns, and other subpoenas from Democrats, Mr. Trump's legal team argued that there is a limit on the investigative power of the Congress. 'Congress must, among other things, have a legitimate legislative purpose, not exercise law-enforcement authority, not excess the relevant committee's jurisdiction, and not make overbroad or impertinent requests,' the President's lawyers wrote in a brief filed last week. But as with a case in federal court in Washington earlier this week, that argument failed to sway Judge Ramos, who said Deutsche Bank can turn over in the information sought by the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. In the halls of Congress, Democrats said the legal victories were clear evidence that the resistance of the White House to Congressional investigation could only succeed for so long. 'The White House has attempted to block Congressional oversight, but the law is on our side,' said Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT). And Democrats also were pleased by the quick action of both judges this week, amid worries that multiple legal challenges by the President could cause lengthy delays. 'We should not be slowed down in our work simply by a clock that goes through judicial processes,' said Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA). The legal setback for President Trump came several hours after he cut short a White House meeting with top Democrats on infrastructure, saying he would not work with them on major legislation until the House stopped a variety of investigations. 'Get these phony investigations over with,' the President told reporters in the Rose Garden. Mr. Trump seemed especially aggravated by statements earlier on Wednesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who accused the President of resisting subpoenas and other document requests for a reason. 'And we believe the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up, in a cover-up,' Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol.