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Connor Lamb was just the beginning. In the wake of Lamb’s upset victory in the Pennsylvania special election earlier in March, a slew of House Democratic challengers are refusing to say that they will vote for Rep. Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker if they are elected to Congress. NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald and Jon Allen found more than a dozen candidates who won’t back her — and even more who are ducking the question. That’s a big problem for Washington Democrats’ hopes of winning the House majority in the 2018 midterms.
In her own self-assessment, Pelosi noted, “I am a master legislator, I am a shrewd politician and I have a following in the country that, apart from a presidential candidate, nobody else can claim.” She’s certainly confident, but she’s also unpopular. And if she tries to cling to the leadership through November, she could very well ruin her party’s growing momentum.
President Donald Trump is unpopular. Republican Members of Congress are retiring in droves. But the so-called midterm “blue wave” is far from a sure bet.
The majority in the House of Representatives has changed three times in the past quarter century: 1994, 2006 and 2010. In each of those years, the opposition party won back the majority not just by offering a check on an unpopular president, but by offering a new and different governing agenda, rooted in the party principles.
In 1994, Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” helped blaze the trail for the first Republican House majority in 40 years. In 2006, against the backdrop of GOP ethics scandals and the unpopular war in Iraq, Pelosi’s Democrats retook that majority touting their “6 for ‘06” agenda. And yet, only four years later, in the wake of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package and Affordable Care Act, as well as the rise of the Tea Party, John Boehner united House Republican candidates behind the “Pledge to America” and won a huge comeback victory.
The point is that, historically speaking, being the “party of no” has not been enough to win the House majority — you need a positive platform. In this context, the growing lack of support for Pelosi is problematic for two reasons: without a strong leader like Gingrich, Pelosi (in ‘06) or Boehner, it is impossible to forge that agenda. Worse for Democrats, the anti-Pelosi forces are a symbol of the deeper divides among Democratic voters.
Historically speaking, being the “party of no” has not been enough to win the House majority — you need a positive platform.
The “Better Deal” agenda briefly touted by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Pelosi last year is a long-forgotten punchline. And while broadly united by their white-hot hatred of Trump, the Democrats are divided on nearly everything else.
On health policy, single-payer advocates war with defenders of Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The wing led by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren sees common-sense improvements in financial services regulation — backed by centrist Democrats — as an unconscionable giveaway to Wall Street. Some Democrats want a rollback of the recent tax reform law to fund higher government spending, while others want new, steep taxes on the rich to pay for far more generous and far-reaching new federal benefits.
And those are just the policy debates — which are far more genteel and mannerly than disagreements over race, class, gender, age and political tactics.
The Democratic challengers shunning Pelosi are not the cause of Democrats’ current “Hunger Games”-style internal conflicts — but they are a symptom. And if they can’t heal those divisions, when it comes to winning the House this year, the odds may actually not be in their favor.
A clean slate, and the promise of a leadership contest following the election would spur a healthy competition among potential new House Democratic leaders.
The best outcome for House Democrats would probably be a pledge from Pelosi that she will serve as Democratic leader in the House through Election Day, but will not take up the speaker’s gavel again if they win the majority. And, frankly, while neither of the other senior House Democratic leaders — Reps. Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn — are as polarizing as Pelosi, neither offers much hope for change. They, too, should pledge not to run for Speaker, and turn the reins over to the next generation of Democratic stars.
Pelosi loyalists would argue that the result of her stepping down would be a chaotic election-year leadership contest among House Democrats that would hurt their chances in the midterm election regardless. I disagree. A clean slate, and the promise of a leadership contest set to occur following the election would spur a healthy competition among potential new House Democratic leaders, and actually make victory more likely in November.
Michael Steel is a managing director at Hamilton Place Strategies, a Washington-based public affairs firm. He served as a spokesman for former House Speaker John Boehner and senior roles on Republican statewide and presidential campaigns, including for Governor Jeb Bush and the Romney-Ryan campaign in 2012. He appears frequently on MSNBC.
Afghanistan: Youngsters protest online against order telling girls not to go to school | World News
Afghan girls and boys have joined a social media protest against a decision by the Taliban to prevent young females going to school.
Putting their own safety at risk, many have created makeshift banners to make their points, opposing an edict by the Taliban government that female middle and high school students should not return to school for the time being, while boys of the same age can resume their studies this weekend.
It comes as the interim mayor of Kabul is telling female city authority employees to stay home, with only those whose jobs cannot be done by men allowed to work.
The moves are further evidence the Taliban, which overran Kabul last month, is enforcing its harsh interpretation of Islam despite initial promises that it would be tolerant and inclusive.
Among the slogans on the banners displayed by the youngsters are statements like: “What is our crime that we are prevented from education?” and “I won’t go to school without my sister. I support my sister. We are equal.”
Sky News has blurred the faces of some of those protesting, as there are fears they could be at risk in a country that appears to be clamping down on the right of expression.
On Sunday, just over a dozen women staged a protest outside the new ministry, holding up placards calling for the right of women to participate in public life.
The protest lasted for about 10 minutes before a short verbal confrontation occurred with a man and the women got into cars and left, as members of the Taliban watched from nearby cars.
Kabul’s new interim mayor, Hamdullah Namony, told his first news conference that, pending a further decision, most of the 1,000 or so female city authority employees would be required to stay home.
He said exceptions would only be made for women who could not be replaced by men, including some in the design and engineering departments and the attendants of public toilets for women.
Mr Namony added: “There are some areas that men can’t do it, we have to ask our female staff to fulfil their duties, there is no alternative for it.”
During its previous rule between the mid 1990s and 2001, the Taliban had forbidden girls and women from schools, jobs and public life.
In recent days, Taliban officials told female university students that classes would take place in gender-segregated settings, and they must abide by a strict Islamic dress code.
Under the previous US-backed administration, before it was deposed by the Taliban in August, men and women had sat alongside each other in universities, for the most part.
On Friday, the Taliban shut down the ministry for women’s affairs, replacing it with a government department responsible for the “propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice”, with the job of enforcing Islamic law.
Amid deteriorating conditions for ordinary Afghans, many of whom previously relied on international aid, witnesses said an explosion targeted a Taliban vehicle in the provincial city of Jalalabad, the second such deadly blast in as many days in an area where Islamic State militants are said to dominate.
The Taliban and IS extremists are enemies and battled each other before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan last month.
Initial reports said five people were killed, with a child among the two civilians said to have died. The Taliban were not immediately available for comment.
Boris Johnson tells world leaders he is growing ‘increasingly frustrated’ at their efforts to tackle climate change | Politics News
Boris Johnson has criticised other world leaders over their efforts to tackle climate change, telling them he is growing “increasingly frustrated” that their commitments are “nowhere near enough”.
Speaking during a meeting at the United Nations in New York, the prime minister said the gap between what has been promised by industrialised nations and what they have so far delivered remains “vast”.
Co-hosting a discussion on the issue at the UN General Assembly, Mr Johnson urged fellow leaders to renew their efforts to meet a key financing pledge to help developing nations.
The PM wants to get countries to commit to giving $100bn (£73bn) a year in support to developing nations to cut their carbon emissions and shield themselves against climate change.
But he earlier told reporters there was only a “six out of 10” chance of this target being met before the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November – which he then said will be “a turning point for the world” and “the moment when we have to grow up and take our responsibilities”.
He told Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby: “We have been here before, we have all heard lots of positive noises, let’s see where we get to.
“We are not counting our chickens.”
However, Joe Biden’s climate envoy sounded upbeat when questioned by Sky News.
“I think we’re going to get it done by COP and the US will do its part,” John Kerry said.
Asked if the US president will announce more money this week, he replied: “I’m not hoping… I’m telling you to stay tuned into the president’s speech and we’ll see where we are.”
Chairing the climate discussion on Monday, Mr Johnson noted that “everyone nods and we all agree that something must be done”.
“Yet I confess I’m increasingly frustrated that the ‘something’ to which many of you have committed is nowhere near enough,” he continued.
“It is the biggest economies in the world that are causing the problem, while the smallest suffer the worst consequences.
“And while progress is being made all over the world, the gulf between what has been promised, what is actually being delivered, and what needs to happen… it remains vast.
“Too many major economies – some represented here today, some absent – are lagging too far behind.”
And the PM warned countries there would be consequences if the financing target is not met, saying: “If you say that the lives of their children are not worth the hassle of reducing domestic coal consumption, will they vote with you in fora such as this?
“Will they work with you, borrow from you, stand with you if you tell the world that you don’t care whether their land and their people slip below the waves?
“To be merely a bystander is to be complicit in their fate – yet that is exactly what you will be if you fail to act this year.”
Ahead of the UN meeting, Downing Street said developed countries had “collectively failed” to meet the target.
Figures released last week by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showed that $79.6bn was mobilised in 2019, more than $20bn off the target.
Watch the Daily Climate Show at 6.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.
The show investigates how global warming is changing our landscape and highlights solutions to the crisis.
Serbians block roads in Kosovo in protest over license plate restrictions | World News
Protesters have blocked roads in northern Kosovo after authorities stopped cars with Serbian plates from entering the country.
Serbia, which lost control of Kosovo in 1999, does not recognise Kosovo and has stopped cars with Kosovo license plates from entering the country.
Almost 50,000 Serbs who live in the north of Kosovo and share a border with Serbia, refuse to recognise Pristina’s authorities and as restrictions came into force on Monday, cars and trucks blocked roads in protest.
Police in Kosovo deployed riot gear and armoured vehicles as the blockades built up and Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, said the move was not taken to harm drivers but was a retaliation measure against Belgrade.
“Today there is nothing illegal or discriminatory,” Mr Kurti said in parliament.
“Just as yesterday, today and tomorrow, Serb citizens will move freely and safely.”
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the situation is very “serious and difficult”.
“When you are dealing with people who are not responsible, it is difficult to find a solution,” Mr Vucic said.
The two countries began talks in 2013, mediated by the European Union, to resolve the issues, but little progress has been made.
Kosovo is recognised by around 110 countries, including the United States, Britain and most western countries, but Russia, Serbia’s traditional ally, does not recognise it.
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