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The Incoming Majority

The Houston Chronicle: "It is not clear how long the spirit of cooperation will last.  The Democrats and the White House are divided on issues such as the Iraq war, taxes and expanding federal funding for embryonic-stem-cell research.  Although the president announced he was replacing Rumsfeld..., he essentially repeated his goals of keeping U.S. fighters in Iraq until a victory is achieved there." 

The San Francisco Chronicle says Pelosi spent yesterday "soaking in the reality of making history."  After an early morning phone call with President Bush, Pelosi held a news conference, was interviewed by Brian Williams, Katie Couric, and Wolf Blitzer, and was congratulated by Condoleezza Rice.  Pelosi's husband, Paul, said today was the first time he saw his wife begin to relax. 

NBC's Mike Viqueira reports that House Democrats seem likely to gather one week from today to elect their new leadership.  Although Pelosi isn't expected to be challenged for Speaker, Democrats may see fights for their number-two and number-three posts.  Rahm Emanuel, the highly successful chair of the party's House campaign committee, is considering challenging former Congressional Black Caucus chair Jim Clyburn for whip.  Emanuel asked reporters yesterday to give him "another 24 hours" to decide whether or not he is going to make the race, Viq reports.  Then there's the under-the-radar struggle between Rep. John Murtha and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (MD), which is about to become very visible. 

These fights put Pelosi in a bit of a fix, Viq says.  Hoyer is a Pelosi rival and Murtha has been seen as her stalking horse.  And Pelosi is already under heat from the black caucus, first for the way in which she handled the Rep. Bill Jefferson scandal, and now for her not-so-secret plan to pass over Rep. Alcee Hastings, an impeached former judge, for chair of the Intelligence Committee.

Viq also advises that there really is no such thing as a "Speaker-elect."  There will be no interval between the time Pelosi is formally elected Speaker and the time she actually becomes Speaker.  That day will be January 3.  Nor is Pelosi yet "Speaker designee," which will likely come next Thursday when House Democrats hold their elections. 

On January 3, all House members will gather in the chamber to vote for Speaker, Viq says.  Each member's name will be called, whereupon that member will shout out the name of his or her favorite.  The process will take a couple of hours.  Even if a member doesn't like the caucus' nominee, he or she will be under tremendous pressure to vote for the agreed-upon candidate.  With rare exceptions, the vote is straight party-line.