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Hoyer, Clyburn Reach Accord Over Dispute for House Democratic Whip Post

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Special to the by AFRO-American Newspapers (DC) –

Following a Friday night meeting, which averted a fearful public Democratic Caucus battle for power, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asked her party colleagues to support Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., for a newly created “assistant leader” position.

The action settles a storm that had been gathering as House Democrats organize themselves as the minority party in the House in the 112th Congress.

In a letter to her fellow Democrats, Pelosi wrote "should I receive the privilege of serving as House Democratic Leader, I will be very honored to nominate our outstanding colleague, Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, to serve in the number three House Democratic position. I will also ask the Caucus to designate that position as Assistant Leader."

The action followed a night meeting among top Democrats with Pelosi and Clyburn present, according to The AP. When they emerged, Pelosi announced creation of a third post in the House Democratic Caucus.

Clyburn has served as the Democratic Majority Whip since 2007. As a result of the sweeping losses suffered by House Democrats in the recent elections, Clyburn was forced into a battle with House Democratic Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-MD., to retain the Democratic Whip position as the Democrats transition to a minority status in the House.

Democrats lost at least 60 House seats in the Nov. 2 elections, reducing their caucus to about 188 members and meaning it would take at least 95 votes, in a secret ballot, to win a spot in the leadership in a battle that was sure to be racially tinged.

Hoyer has broad support among both moderate and conservative Democrats, according to The Hill. Last week, seven Democratic committee chairmen in the House sent a letter to their colleagues in support of Hoyer for the Whip position. Rep. Barney Frank, D.-MA, Rep. Howard L. Berman, D-CA, Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-WVA, Rep. Bob Filner, D-CA, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-TX, Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-MA, and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA, all indicated their preference for Hoyer at the reins. In contrast, however, Clyburn showed he had the Black votes.

The Congressional Black Caucus, last week, announced it is supporting Rep. James Clyburn, D-SC, for Democratic Minority Whip, the second highest party post in the House for the 112th Congress.

"The Congressional Black Caucus endorses Majority Whip Clyburn,” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-CA, said in a statement: “He (Clyburn) has been an extremely effective consensus-building member of the Democratic Leadership who has brought together all corners of our caucus behind a unified agenda.”

"With our country at a crossroads, it is vitally important that we have a leadership team in place that recognizes and reflects the strength and diversity of both the Democratic Caucus and our great nation,” she said.

With the battle lines for the Democratic Caucus Minority Whip position apparently resolved, for now, the Democrats are now preparing to face a Republican onslaught focused on either repealing or radically changing the Health Care and other pieces of legislation enacted during the Democratic controlled 111th Congress.

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