Pelosi picks up 2 more Democratic votes in bid for speaker

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi can add two more yes votes in her hunt to get to 218 to win election as speaker of the House in January.

Reps.-elect Joe Neguse, D-Colo., and Chrissy Houlahan, D-Penn., announced their support for Pelosi on "Face the Nation" Sunday. They appeared alongside fellow incoming representatives Deb Haaland, D-N.M., who had previously voiced her support for Pelosi, and Dan Crenshaw, a Republican from Texas.

The vote for speaker of the House is open to all representatives regardless of party, meaning a handful of members from the majority party could prevent a candidate from reaching the threshold of 218 votes by withholding support. Democrats control 232 House seats with two races yet to be decided, according to the latest CBS News tally. Last week, 17 Democrats signed an unreleased letter vowing to oppose Pelosi for speaker.

Neguse Houlahan Face the Nation
Reps.-elect Joe Neguse, left, and Chrissy Houlahan, right, appear on "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. CBS News

Neguse said he was asked about his vote for speaker more often than any other topic during his first week on Capitol Hill for orientation. He said Pelosi's commitment to establish a new House diversity office and adopt rules aimed at inclusion swayed his decision to support her bid for speaker.

"I think that it's important that we have steady leadership right now," Neguse said. "I found it pretty heartening over the course of the last week some of the developments around it becoming clear that this leadership team is going to work to try to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table."

Houlahan, an engineer and former chemistry teacher, said she took an "analytical" approach to figuring out her speaker vote. She took this week to study the structural organization of the house and think about who would be the best fit at the top of it.

"It's important to not make that decision as in isolation," Houlahan said. "Right now she's the only person who's running, so it would appear as though that's where my vote would go. And right now I believe that she's an effective person in that job."

Neguse is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and said the group would be a strong ally for Pelosi, contrasting the dynamic to tea party Republicans who were often thorns in the side of GOP leaders. 

"I think we are all working together rowing in the same direction trying to save our democracy," he said.

Crenshaw, the Republican, pushed back on the idea that democracy is in need of saving.

"We just had an election where we switched power in the House. Democracy is at work," Crenshaw said. "I always ask for examples, and then we can hit those examples one-by-one and if it's worth criticizing, it's worth criticizing, but just kind of this broad-brush criticism that the president is somehow undermining our democracy. I always wonder, like, what exactly we're talking about."

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Houlahan pointed to the White House's recent entanglement with CNN's Jim Acosta, calling it "an attack on the press." Haaland said the president was "discriminating against the LGBTQ community."

"I think that's troublesome," Haaland said. "I think it's worrisome."

Crenshaw said those examples sounded more like policy disagreements than fundamental attacks on American democracy.

"I want to caution us, because those are very bold words. If we have policy disagreements, let's focus on those policy disagreements and I'll be happy to discuss those at any point," Crenshaw said. "But this is what I've been getting at kind of all week, which is we tend to go right at the jugular, right? We say, 'You're undermining democracy, you're a bad person fundamentally.' That's not always true."