House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) saw her chances of becoming the next speaker improve on Wednesday as one staunch critic changed his tune.
Pelosi is expected to become the next speaker given her past experience in the role and her time as minority leader.
She’s faced resistance from within her own party, with some trying to replace the old guard with fresh ideas.
But that internal rebellion lost another participant as Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) announced his endorsement of her.
“Power has been too consolidated atop the caucus and it was my hope that along with like-minded members, we would forge a new leadership structure,” Higgins said in a statement provided to Politico.
“Following conversations with Nancy and other caucus leaders, I have renewed confidence that more voices will be heard, that members will each have greater opportunities to advance policies meaningful to the communities and country we love. ”
Higgins has criticized the minority leader for months and promised to vote against her bid for speaker.
He explained his change of heart by noting that when they talked, she agreed to support his two main legislative priorities, a major infrastructure package, plus legislation dealing with the Medicare enrollment age.
“Some will ask why I have changed my position,” Higgins said. “The answer is simple: I took a principled stand on issues of vital importance not only to my constituents in Western New York, but also to more than 300 million Americans whose lives can be improved by progress in these areas.”
Higgins isn’t the first one to change his tune about her becoming speaker, either. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) announced that she was backing her just days after considering a run against her.
Pelosi promised her an opportunity to work on protecting voting rights and ensuring black women have a seat at the table.
House Democrats opposing her bid for speaker also released a letter detailing why they want someone else.
Higgins was among the 16 lawmakers who had signed onto that letter. Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) had also signed it.
Pelosi previously served as speaker for a few years before conservatives were able to regain control of the House. She continued her role as the party leader in the chamber afterward as minority leader.
Her long career has also earned her a lot of support among lawmakers, labor unions and veterans advocates.
Reps. Jimmy Panetta, Stanford Bishop, Anthony Brown, Salud Carbajal, Ted Lieu, Bill Pascrell, Bobby Scott and José E. Serrano all signed a dear colleague letter supporting her just recently.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member, along with Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-Penn.) and Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), also endorsed her.
The midterm elections resulted in split congressional control on November 5.
Pelosi responded to the election results the day after most contests had been decided by saying she hoped to find areas Congress could work together on in a bipartisan manner.
Infrastructure and criminal justice reform are two areas where that might actually happen. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed similar hopes of bipartisanship as well.
For more on the 2018 midterms, check out this video: