The position is billed as a new "number 3" position, which is what Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., has now. However, it isn't clear what it is. It eliminates the race between Clyburn and Steny Hoyer, D-Md., for the minority whip position. Presumably John Larson would then stand for chair of the Democratic Caucus.
A senior Democratic aide says that the Speaker pushed hard to work this out after the fighting between Hoyer and Clyburn started and this apparently hurt their relationships with other leadership offices.
It seems as though Clyburn would get a little less money and a little less staff, but still exist in this new position.
Furthermore, Pelosi has a track record of creating new positions out of whole cloth. She crafted the slot of "Special Assistant to the Speaker" for Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., at the beginning of this Congress. Also, after Democrats moved aside John Dingell, D-Mich., the longest-serving House member in U.S. history from the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee for Pelosi lieutenant Henry Waxman. D-Md., (because health care reform and cap and trade would come through that panel), they "promoted" Dingell to "Chairman Emeritus."
Dingell said he had never heard of such a thing.
Plus, by Pelosi creating a position for Clyburn, this avoids a nasty fight with the Congressional Black Caucus. Relations between Pelosi and the CBC are sometimes shaky.
And now, Democrats can contrast the "look" of their leadership to the GOP's. GOP has all white males. Democrats have a liberal female at the top, a moderate white male at number 2, an African American at number 3, presumably another white male at number 4 (ostensibly, John Larson, D-Conn., would remain the chair of the Democratic Caucus) and a Latino at number 5 (Xavier Becerra-D, Calif., is currently the vice chair).
Here is the Pelosi Statement:
"The Chairman of the Democratic Caucus has informed Members that we will meet next Wednesday to organize the Caucus and elect the Leadership team for the 112th Congress.
"Should I receive the honor of serving as House Democratic Leader, I will nominate Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina to the number three leadership position.
"Over the past four years, Congressman Clyburn's effective leadership in the Whip's Office was crucial to our passage of historic legislation on jobs, health care, veterans and Wall Street reform on behalf of the American people. Without Jim Clyburn's determination, we would not have expanded college opportunities for millions of students, improved community health centers, or promoted jobs through investments in infrastructure, including rural broadband.
"With the support of the members of the Democratic Caucus, I look forward to working with Jim and the other members of our Leadership team to create jobs and prosperity for the American people."