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Nancy Pelosi is back as U.S. House speaker and it’s not because new U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, voted for her.
Fresh on the job last week, Slotkin upheld her campaign promise to not support the California Democrat by being one of two House Democrats to vote “present” on the question of speaker. In total, 15 Democrats didn’t support Pelosi through various other votes.
Fellow new Rep. Anthony Brindisi actually voted for former Vice President Joe Biden, which he could do. While House speakers traditionally have been members, the Constitution doesn’t require that to be the case.
The vote kicked off a busy first few days on the job and will continue after noon on Jan. 13, when Slotkin holds a public swearing-in ceremony at the Lansing Center.
Republican consultants took their shots at Slotkin for her first vote. The spokesperson for former U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, the man she beat in November, said voting “present” isn’t new leadership.
“It’s chickening out,” tweeted Stu Sandler, adding in a later tweet. “She misled voters.”
But for Slotkin, the writing was on the wall. Pelosi had the votes within the Democratic conference to be speaker. Nobody else was stepping forward as a viable option. She wasn’t going to support Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.
It’s presumed Pelosi gave Slotkin a pass on the vote when the two met. Slotkin needed to separate herself from Pelosi when running in Michigan’s traditionally Republican 8th District. The GOP would eviscerate Slotkin in 2020 if she flipflopped on her first congressional vote.
“It’s important that for my very first vote to stick with my integrity,” Slotkin told The Detroit News. “My voters reinforced this when I was home for the Christmas break.”
The Pelosi vote was just the start for Slotkin. With part of the federal government shut over the border wall standoff, Slotkin took the unusual step of donating her congressional salary to the Alzheimer’s Association until the shutdown ends. She joins 48 other members, according to a Washington Post story that featured Slotkin prominently.
“As a former federal employee who was personally responsible for managing the furloughing of hundreds of personnel at the Department of Defense, due to sequestration and then due to a 17-day Government shutdown, I have seen up close the damage that a Government shutdown has on the mission of our Federal departments and the morale of Federal personnel,” Slotkin wrote to Congress Chief Administrative Officer Phil Kiko.
On another issue, remember when Slotkin said during the campaign that the first bill she wanted to introduce would be on campaign finance reform?
Friday, Slotkin stood up with Pelosi and dozens of her House Democratic colleagues in support of HR 1, which was described in Roll Call as a “hodgepodge of policies Democrats have long promoted,” such getting “dark money” out of politics and stronger ethics laws.
Slotkin didn’t get to sponsor the measure, but she giddily posted a video of her going to the Capitol press conference announcing its introduction.
Of course, that’s not what folks were talking about last Friday. That happened to be fellow Michigan freshman Rashida Tlaib, who said at a MoveOn.org rally that the House was going to “impeach the motherfucker” in reference to President Donald Trump.
CNN put Slotkin on air to talk about two issues: First, her thoughts on impeaching Trump, which she wasn’t necessarily gung-ho about during the campaign, and the use of the F-bomb. Here’s what she said:
“I want to understand what the (special counsel) Bob Mueller report is going to say. I’m a big believer in Bob Mueller. When he was FBI director, I was a baby CIA analyst. I have a lot of respect for him. I want to read his report and then we’ll see what we’re dealing with.
“In terms of the language, I just can’t support that kind of language. We’re trying to set an example for our kids. Some of the tenor and the tone that the president has set has been fundamentally unbecoming and I don’t think it helps us to respond in kind.”
In terms of living up to another campaign promise, Slotkin is listing on her congressional webpage a Lansing office, something Mike Bishop took a lot of heat around town for abandoning when he took office.
The address is listed as 1100 W. Saginaw St. Suite 3A in Lansing, which is on the corner of Saginaw and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on property next door to Sparrow Hospital’s St. Lawrence campus.
Melinn, an editor of the Capitol news service MIRS, is at email@example.com.