WASHINGTON – House Democrats angry over the party's dreary Election Day voted Thursday to strip some power from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — but with her support.
In a private meeting that lawmakers said grew loud at times, Democrats voted by voice to make the head of their political committee an elected post. Until now, Pelosi, D-Calif., has appointed someone to the job.
They also expanded the number of lower-level leadership jobs in a bid to give rank-and-file lawmakers more of a role in decision-making.
Pelosi, 76, suggested the leadership changes late Wednesday after she was re-elected to her post, but with nearly a third of Democrats voting against her. She has led House Democrats since 2002, but rebellious Democrats have said it is time for fresh leaders.
House Democrats have been unhappy that in last month's elections they gained just six seats, well below predictions and far short of the 30 they would have needed to gain majority control of the chamber.
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., has chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the past two years after Pelosi gave him the job. No date was set for that election.
Lujan, 44 and a House member for eight years, did not respond directly when asked whether he would run for re-election, but others said they expected him to do so.
"I get very enthusiastic," he told journalists after they heard his voice raised during the closed-door meeting. "That's emotion."
"People were questioning the effectiveness of the DCCC," Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said of the meeting. She said while Democrats didn't criticize Lujan personally, "He obviously felt called upon to defend the farm."
In a written statement, Pelosi said the new leaders "will be strengthened by the mandate of their colleagues, and I am eager to partner with them to tackle the work before our country and our caucus."
Democrats also lost the White House and remained in the Senate minority in an election that has divided the party over whether it needs to do a better job of appealing to white working-class people, who tilted Republican this year, or become more progressive.
"Our strategy was getting minorities and women out" to vote, said Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore. "That was pretty much it."