November 30, 2020

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House leaders urge Democrats not to join team Biden to maintain majority

Confronted with a shrunken majority, House leaders are discouraging fellow Democrats from taking jobs with the incoming Biden administration — out of concern that Republicans could nab any vacated seats, sources told The Post on Sunday.

Insiders variously accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., of urging Dems to stay put to preserve their fragile majority.

“Nancy is telling House members, ‘Now is not the time to leave,’” a Democratic Party official who’s been briefed by Democratic congressional reps said.

FILE: Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speaks to reporters as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., listens at right on Capitol Hill in Washington. 

FILE: Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speaks to reporters as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., listens at right on Capitol Hill in Washington. 
(AP)

But another House insider said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., is urging Democratic congressional reps to stay put, and told the Biden transition team not to poach its members because of the party’s slim majority following the Nov. 3 elections.

The sensitive topics of jumping ship to work for Biden amid the loss of House seats came up at a House Democratic caucus meeting last week.

“It’s not helpful to talk about that,” a member of Democratic leadership reportedly said on the call regarding House Dems wanting to relinquish their seats and work for Biden.

“The feeling is: don’t make rash decisions about going to the administration without first considering consequences to the caucus,” a Democratic insider familiar with the call said.

The “zeitgeist” of the Democratic House leadership is that their majority is “razor thin,” the source said.

Pelosi’s office denied that the speaker is pressuring House Democrats from resigning to work for Biden.

“This is completely false. The Speaker wants the full contribution of House Democrats to the Biden-Harris mandate and to the future represented in the Administration,” said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.

Last week, The Post revealed that Biden was eyeing a bipartisan list of 30 members of Congress known for working across the aisle for key administration posts.

The Biden transition team is looking at 20 lawmakers serving in the House of Representatives and 10 in the Senate who received the US Chamber of Commerce’s Jefferson-Hamilton 2020 award for bipartisanship.

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An insider said that the Biden team is looking more closely at the House — where Democrats are in the majority — rather than the Senate, the fate of which is up for grabs depending on two special elections in Georgia in January.

Ballots are still being counted, but it’s clear that the House Democratic majority will shrink from its current 233 to 201 margin over Republicans. The Democrats are projected to lose about a dozen seats.

As of Friday evening, Democrats have won 219 seats while Republicans are the projected winners in 203 seats. There are 13 races which are yet to be called.

The results — which came despite Biden besting President Trump at the the top of the ticket by 5 million votes — has led to open warfare between the left wing and the moderate and establishments wings of the party.

The finger-pointing has centered on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and left wingers promoting defunding the police and Pelosi posing with a refrigerator full of pricey ice cream.

If a House Dem were to join the administration, his or her seat would then be filled during a special election open to Democrats and Republicans. The timing of such elections varies state to state.

Historically, the party of the president in power also loses congressional seats during mid-term elections. The House flipped under both Presidents Obama and Trump.

House leaders are especially worried about proven vote-getting moderate Democrats in swing districts flying the coop — giving Republicans a shot at winning those seats.

Lawmakers like upstate Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi have already been on calls with the Biden transition team, a source close to the deliberations said.

Brindisi trails former GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney in the machine count in their rematch election. But he had narrowed the gap substantially by winning 75 percent of the first batch of thousands of absentee ballots counted last week. He still trails by 16,720 votes with 29,000 mail-in ballots yet to be counted.

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Other New York Democrats representing potential swing districts include Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in the Hudson Valley and Long Island Reps. Kathleen Rice and Tom Suozzi.

Hoyer’s office and the Biden transition team had no comment.

To read more from The New York Post, click here. 

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