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Democrats, Republicans Maneuver for US Congressional Leadership Posts


After the U.S. mid-term elections, maneuvering has already begun among Democrats for majority leadership positions, as Republicans prepare to become the opposition in the House of Representatives.

Democrats are scheduled to meet next week to determine who will serve in key leadership positions.

That includes Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who must be formally elected House Speaker by Democratic colleagues, which will make her the first woman to occupy that position.

But maneuvering for other posts is under way, with the most attention focused on the number two slot, Majority Leader, and the number three position, Majority Whip.

Congressman Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, formally says he is confident the Democratic caucus will make him Majority Leader under a future Speaker Pelosi. But he faces a possible challenge from Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, noted for his proposal to "re-deploy" U.S. troops from Iraq.

The question of who would occupy the number three Democratic position hinges on the outcome of some internal party politics.

Congressman Rahm Emmanuel, who led Democratic campaign operations, is considered the leading candidate and may make a decision soon. "I want to talk to my colleagues. I also have to evaluate, as I always do, [my] professional responsibilities as well as [my] family responsibilities," he said.

But with Pelosi seeking to emphasize ethnic diversity, she may also give consideration to South Carolina Democrat Jim Clyburn, who has chaired the Democratic caucus, and is supported by African-American lawmakers.

Other African-Americans are in line for key chairmanships, of the Judiciary and the Ways and Means committees, and a female Hispanic may also get a committee position.

Congressman Charles Rangel was a prime target of Republicans in the latest campaign. Their ads portrayed him as someone who would roll back President Bush's tax cuts for Americans.

In a telephone news conference, Rangel said he does not expect to have any difficulties negotiating with Republicans or the Bush administration on key issues.

"I'm hopeful that they [Republicans] really don't want to be lame duck and Democrats don't want to appear to be in gridlock so I think it is in the interest of Congress and the country that we do work together [on] the serious problems, of course, that we face," he said.

Meanwhile, Republicans will be competing for minority leadership posts as they prepare to go into the opposition in the 110th Congress.

"We will start the 110th Congress [with] what appears to be 13 seats short of a majority, so the first thing is we will have to make the adjustments of [having] the status of the minority party," said Congressman Tom Reynolds, a New York Republican who held on to his House seat in Tuesday's election.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who has served longer in that position than any other lawmaker, has announced he will not return in that role.

That sets up what could be fierce competition for Speaker, Minority Leader and Minority Whip, with Joe Barton and John Shadegg, Republicans from Texas and Arizona, already announcing they will vie for leadership positions.

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