Incoming House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer acknowledged yesterday that he was seeking assurances from presumptive Speaker Nancy Pelosi that she would not retaliate against his supporters after he won the No. 2 House leadership post.
Mr. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, insisted that there was “no bad blood” with Mrs. Pelosi after she publicly supported Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania for the job of majority leader. Mr. Hoyer said he was confident that Mrs. Pelosi would not punish House colleagues who voted 149-86 last week to make Mr. Hoyer the majority leader when Democrats take control in January.
“We’re going to talk about that,” said Mr. Hoyer, when asked whether the Californian had made promises not to retaliate by denying choice committee assignments. “One of the reasons it’s going to not happen is that there are a lot of them.”
“It’s one thing … if you have a margin of one or two or five or even 10, but when you have a margin as decisively as the caucus made a decision, then it’s time to move on,” Mr. Hoyer said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Last week, Democrats chose Mr. Hoyer — who long has had a difficult relationship with Mrs. Pelosi — after unanimously backing her to become the House’s first female speaker.
Yesterday, Mr. Hoyer sought to play down any personal differences or ill will, noting that the two have worked together in the House Democratic leadership for many years.
“The American public have just given us a big mandate for change and taken the country in a new direction,” he said. “Nancy and I share that obligation together. That’s our objective, and we’re going to work very closely to accomplish that.”
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich called Mrs. Pelosi’s decision to support Mr. Murtha a “mistake” but said his fellow Republicans should not underestimate her.
“Republicans, instead of chortling about … the fact that she backed Murtha rather than Hoyer … need to start by saying, you know, if she has these weaknesses, how come she’s going to be speaker? She won,” the Georgia Republican said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“She did make a mistake with Murtha,” he added. “I think if she appoints Alcee Hastings to be the head of intelligence, that will be a further mistake in the direction of making her far too left-wing and far too insensitive.”
Mrs. Pelosi has not said whom she would appoint to lead the House intelligence committee. Mr. Hastings and Rep. Silvestre Reyes are considered front-runners to take over in what has been considered a snub to the current senior Democrat on the panel, Rep. Jane Harman of California.
Mrs. Pelosi has told Mrs. Harman that she will not be reappointed to the committee after her position expires at year’s end. Mr. Hastings of Florida, the next senior Democrat on the committee, is a former federal judge who was charged in an FBI bribery sting but was acquitted by a federal jury. Later, he was impeached by the House and removed from the bench in 1989 by the Senate.