Four Democratic Senators – Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris – have signed a letter asking Pelosi to remove Dan Pfeiffer, who has publicly challenged Pelosi’s leadership of the House Minority Leader.
Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, is listed as a member of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee (ranking member) and the Senior Administrative Assistant (receiving from Pelosi’s office).
The letter follows a letter from 50 members of Congress urging Pelosi to remove Pfeiffer.
That letter listed six requests for changes, including the removal of Pfeiffer from his committee assignments.
“Many new Members of Congress, as well as leadership, had hoped that after having won the largest House Democratic majority in a generation, your Committee would be prepared to build a House Democratic majority that would more successfully move policy in a progressive direction,” the letter said.
The letter comes as House Democrats dig in for a fight over leadership, with some focusing on Pelosi’s term as leader versus Democrats’ direction if they win control of the House in the November midterms.
“My faith in him has been so crushed that I have more questions than answers about his current role and I’d be interested in knowing,” Murphy said on “This Week.”
The question on most Democrats’ minds now is: Will Pelosi respond?
“This is a particularly potent issue for Democrats because if you can’t move your caucus, you can’t control your caucus,” said Adam Jentleson, a former chief of staff to Sen. Patty Murray, a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress Action Fund and a Pelosi critic who is one of the 50 signers of the letter sent to Pelosi.
Indeed, Democratic leadership has faced major pressure from Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and even some of Pelosi’s fellow California Democrats, who have all said they would support Brownstein to replace Pelosi and work with the next House Democratic leader.
Any changes in committee assignments for Pelosi or other Democrats in leadership may make it harder for them to have say on House issues that matter to those Congressional caucuses.
“Pelosi could not in good conscience remove Pfeiffer from his committee assignments,” Jentleson said. “Other issues he is in the line of being a player on. So, he could be removed to try to intimidate Pelosi and it might have a chilling effect on others in leadership who want to work with them.”
Still, Pelosi may not be receptive to any other changes on the committee level. After all, when Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was being grilled about whether she was planning to challenge Pelosi for the House Democratic leadership seat in June, she said she knew there was no chance Pelosi would remove anyone from her Congressional Delegation – that she would be there and where she would sit.
It’s the same dynamic in the Senate where Democratic leadership — and especially Chuck Schumer — are far more entrenched than their counterparts in the House.
Pelosi, during a telephone interview with Democratic colleagues on December 2, said she “has to play nice with people and sometimes you can’t say, ‘No,’” Jentleson said.
“She likes her chairmen like Brookly McLane Greene and Alan Grayson. She can’t remove them, even when it’s unjustified,” Jentleson said.
“As tough as [leadership battles] are sometimes, they pale in comparison to how Congressional candidates are raising money and running campaigns,” said David Axelrod, who was former President Barack Obama’s chief strategist.
Also, Democrats like Pelosi and Schumer have more clout in the House, where they have more numbers, than Senate Republicans like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who can only confirm judicial appointees and disapprove nominees.