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The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

Speaker Pelosi to announce whether she will run to stay House Democratic leader

The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

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In today's edition …  With GOP House win, Biden’s foreign policy faces added sway, Missy Ryan and Yasmeen Abutaleb report … Tony Romm writes that after the FTX meltdown, Congress is starting to ask: Did it neglect crypto? … Joe Davidson reports that DOJ says prison staff who sexually assault inmates should face harsher sentences … but first …

On the Hill

All eyes on Pelosi

We teamed up with our colleagues Marianna Sotomayor and Paul Kane for this report.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will announce whether she will run for another term in leadership today, her spokesman Drew Hammill tweeted late Wednesday. 

“The Speaker plans to address her future plans tomorrow to her colleagues. Stay tuned,” he wrote.

Pelosi is expected to give a speech this morning on the House floor, which opens at 10 a.m., according to a senior leadership aide who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss leadership maneuverings.

Apparently still uncertain on what to do, Pelosi took two versions of her floor speech home with her last night — one in which she steps back from her leadership role and one in which she runs again, according to a person familiar with her plans. 

Pelosi, 82, has led House Democrats since 2003 and is a historic figure, having served as the first female speaker. Her decision will have major implications for the party, with younger lawmakers champing at the bit to assume top leadership positions and usher in a generational change.

Anxious Democrats

The anxiety over the future of House Democratic leadership has risen with each day this week, which has been packed with events for the more than 30 incoming freshman Democrats. Each night brings a large dinner, such as Monday’s meal in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall hosted by Pelosi, and then after-parties like the one Tuesday night at an Irish pub on Capitol Hill.

But the giddiness over Democrats’ overperformance in the midterms is fading from discussions, overtaken by chatter about what Pelosi will do next.

The rumor mill is on overdrive, with every Democrat on Capitol Hill, K Street and Pennsylvania Avenue trying to read every tea leaf on what Pelosi’s decision will be. People’s opinions change from one hour to the next.

Pelosi earlier said she would make her decision known after it was clear which party would control the House in the next Congress — The Washington Post and other news outlets called the majority for Republicans Wednesday night — and she told members of the California delegation on Wednesday that she would announce her decision before the end of the week.

Reading tea leaves

Pelosi confides only in a few deeply loyal and trusted confidants.

“If someone tells you they know what [Pelosi] will do, they’re wrong,” one Democratic member cautioned Wednesday, a sentiment many members echoed.

Pelosi has said in multiple interviews that the recent attack on her husband and his ongoing recovery will play a role in her decision.

The House is expected to leave town for the week today, and leadership elections are slated for Nov. 30,  one day after members return.

  • Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.) and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) have been making moves for years, but especially in the last few months, to run to succeed Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.). Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar hosted a party Wednesday night for the incoming freshman class of Democratic lawmakers.

Another ambitious House Democrat, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), has decided against running for a leadership position after spending most of the summer and fall asking colleagues whether they would support a potential bid for the top slot, according to a person familiar with his plans.

But time is running out, and the competition for lower-level House leadership posts — which will be less numerous with Democrats in the minority — has already begun. At least four Democrats are running for the position of caucus vice chair, currently held by Aguilar. Another is running for Jeffries’s position as caucus chairman under the assumption that Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn are leaving. If just one of them remains in leadership, it creates a game of musical chairs in which some people will be left without a leadership post for which to run.

‘Of course she does’

Pelosi’s closest personal friend in Congress said the speaker has more than enough support inside the caucus to stay on as minority leader if she chooses.

“Of course she does, of course she does. It’s very deep, it’s very broad,” said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif), who is godmother to two of Pelosi’s grandchildren and who officiated the wedding of one of Pelosi’s daughters.

But other members say it’s time for Pelosi — whom they credit with doing a phenomenal job passing legislation with only a five-seat majority, steering the country through the coronavirus pandemic as well as contending with Donald Trump’s presidency and an attack on the U.S. Capitol — to step aside.

“People with talent are waiting for her to go to see if they can be different,” one lawmaker said.

Pelosi would need a simple majority of the caucus in a secret ballot to become minority leader. She faced difficulty in attaining the speakership in 2020 because it required her to work her own caucus to get 218 votes on the House floor — a similar hurdle to the one facing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) right now.

  • “I hope that we don't have a situation where any of these folks who we really respect and I think have been historic figures — no one wants to see them have to run in a contested race and maybe lose,” said Rep. Colin Allred (D-Tex.).

Three former Pelosi aides said that although they haven’t discussed the matter with the speaker, they believe she will seek another term.

“There’s nothing that I have seen that gives me reason to believe that the speaker is going to do anything but run for [House minority] leader,” one former Pelosi aide said. “I’d be surprised if that didn’t happen.”

Still, it’s tough even for those who know Pelosi well to divine what she will do.

“It’s impossible to read the tea leaves with the speaker,” said a fourth former Pelosi aide.

More from The Post on the midterm elections and their aftermath:

At the White House

With GOP House win, Biden’s foreign policy faces added sway

New House majority, new challenges: President Biden will confront new challenges in advancing his global agenda following the midterm elections, as Republican gains are expected to deepen congressional skepticism about U.S. support for Ukraine, renew scrutiny of America’s posture abroad and initiate polarizing probes into his handling of Afghanistan and immigration,” our colleagues Missy Ryan and Yasmeen Abutaleb report.

  • “While Democrats have retained their majority in the Senate, Republican control of the House has the potential to constrain Biden’s ability to achieve key foreign policy goals, including his intent to continue providing high levels of aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia.”
  • “An incident this week in Poland foreshadowed the debates to come, with a segment of the GOP demanding an end to U.S. support after two people died in an explosion that Western officials think was caused, unintentionally, by the Ukrainians. Analysts said those pressures will be tempered, both by Republican divisions on that topic and the president’s broad authority in foreign affairs.”
  • “Another challenge that Biden must navigate with a Republican-controlled House is the likelihood of contentious congressional investigations related to his handling of international affairs, which could distract from the administration’s priorities. Those include potential inquiries into Biden’s son, Hunter, and his overseas business dealings, including with a Chinese energy firm; the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic; and its immigration policy.”

RELATED: On foreign trip, Biden meets with dictators he has criticized. By Matt Viser and Yasmeen Abutaleb.

On the Hill

After FTX meltdown, Congress starts to ask: Did it neglect crypto?

‘The cost of congressional inaction’: “The sudden collapse of one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges rattled the nation’s capital this week, as lawmakers grappled with the wide-ranging fallout — and began to confront the consequences of neglecting the surging financial sector,” our colleague Tony Romm reports. “Only a few weeks ago, top Democrats and Republicans alike had been cashing campaign checks and working side-by-side with the vanguards of the industry, including FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, as they labored to craft new regulation in the frenetic, cutting-edge digital space.”

  • “Instead, Bankman-Fried unexpectedly became a potential case study of the costs of congressional inaction. While Washington dithered, he appeared to place a series of risky bets that incinerated his own fortune, jeopardized billions of dollars in Silicon Valley capital, threatened smaller investors and upended an entire ecosystem of cryptocurrency start-ups.”
  • “In response, investigators in the United States and abroad have opened probes into Bankman-Fried and his holdings. The Treasury Department quietly has placed calls to other large crypto exchanges to assess the risks of a broader contagion. And a slew of congressional committees have readied their own reviews, including a House inquiry announced Wednesday that could see Bankman-Fried testify under oath next month.”
  • “In the process, federal policymakers have been left to ask themselves a familiar, if uncomfortable, question: Could they have prevented a crisis if they had paid close attention sooner?”

In the agencies

Prison staff who sexually assault inmates should face harsher sentences, DOJ says

⚠️: “The Justice Department has ordered its Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to take ‘immediate actions’ against the problem of federal employees who sexually abuse inmates,” per our colleague Joe Davidson. More than 600 allegations of sexual abuse were made against employees in fiscal 2020, per a BOP Office of Internal Affairs report.

  • “A forceful Nov. 2 memo from Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco says she and BOP Director Colette S. Peters ‘embrace’ recommendations from a working group of senior department officials. Monaco formed it because of her ‘grave concerns about instances of sexual misconduct involving employees.’”

The group made more than 50 recommendations:

  • For employees convicted of sexual assault: “When prosecutors charge sexual abuse, they should consider a variety of statutes that ‘carry higher maximum penalties’ and ‘provide an alternative means to obtain more just sentences.’”
  • For abuse victims: “The report urged sentence reductions, compassionate release and special ‘U-visas’ for noncitizens, ‘where warranted,’ because of ‘the detrimental impact of sexual assault on victims.’”

What we're watching

Pelosi, obviously.

The Media

Early reeeads

From us: 

From across the web: 

Viral

“Florida man makes announcement”

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