After getting an assurance from House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi that she opposes building a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Rep.-elect Susie Lee said she plans to back Pelosi to be speaker.
“Leader Pelosi recently reiterated to me that she continues to oppose shipping the nation’s nuclear waste to Nevada because she agrees that the wishes of Nevadans should be respected,” Lee said in a statement provided by her office.
“I believe Leader Pelosi is the best candidate to support the interests of southern Nevada families because she has proven that she will get results that will defend protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, improve the quality of our schools, and prevent the storage of nuclear waste in Yucca mountain. She has earned my support for Speaker,” Lee continued.
Lee, who was elected earlier this month to represent Nevada’s third congressional district, had previously been undecided on Pelosi.
Currently the House minority leader, Pelosi has been working since the election to win the support of the Democratic Caucus — and fighting off an effort to deny her the needed 218 votes, a simple majority of the House. Opponents of Pelosi, who has led the party in the House since 2002, argue that new leadership would invigorate the party ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
House Democrats will meet Wednesday to take preliminary votes on speaker and other leadership positions. Pelosi is expected to win the preliminary vote, but is still working to ensure she can win the floor vote in January.
Pelosi was challenged at the beginning of the last two-year legislative session. Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan won 63 votes in his failed bid in 2016.
Another vote in play for Pelosi is that of Rep.-elect Steve Horsford. He has been reticent about where he stands on Pelosi for speaker. A spokesman for Horsford could not be immediately reached for comment.
The remaining Nevada Democrat in the state’s House delegation, Rep. Dina Titus, has said she will support Pelosi.
Lee’s comment came after she signed onto a letter with 19 of her freshman Democratic colleagues declaring their support for Pelosi, citing her success in passing legislation expanding access to health care.
“A proven leader, like Leader Pelosi, will be a valuable resource as we, ourselves, step up to lead, and as we work to make life better for the people we represent,” the letter said.