U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, who led unsuccessful efforts to change Democratic House leadership in both 2017 and 2019 before unsuccessfully running for President, will vote for Nancy Pelosi this January to be speaker of the House for the upcoming 117th Congress.

“This is a very different moment,” Moulton said in an interview Friday morning with GBH News. “I will always vote for the best person. In this moment in history that candidate is Nancy Pelosi, because she is the best person to hold the caucus together, which is what we will need to do to accomplish Joe Biden’s agenda.”

In November 2016, Moulton successfully led an effort to delay leadership elections, in an effort to build support for Tim Ryan as a candidate for speaker. Two years later, he again sought to build a coalition that ultimately failed to produce an alternative.

Moulton’s support for Pelosi comes as some internal tensions are playing out among House Democrats. A Thursday caucus call reportedly lasted for hours, with finger-pointing over responsibility for failing to gain seats in Tuesday’s election.

“Holding the caucus together is one of the most important — and as the caucus call yesterday demonstrated, hardest — things we have to do right now,” Moulton said.
In addition to Pelosi, Moulton indicated that he is likely to also vote for Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn to continue in those roles. Both, like Pelosi, are now in their 80s. Moulton has argued in the past that House Democrats need voices of younger generations among those top leadership positions.

Today, with the likelihood of an incoming Biden administration, Moulton says that the White House, more than the Congress, will drive the agenda. He feels confident that younger leadership, both in the administration and the House of Representatives, will have their voices elevated in that process.

He also pointed to what he says is his own good working relationship with Pelosi, citing his just-passed bill creating a national 9-8-8 mental health hotline.

He does, however, expect Pelosi to honor an agreement she struck with Moulton and others during the late-2018 discussions. Although not ultimately added to caucus rules, Pelosi agreed to a voluntary three-term limit that would effectively make the coming two-year session her last as Speaker.

“I expect her to keep her word,” Moulton said.

Staying put

Moulton would not, however, commit to supporting his fellow Massachusetts representative Katherine Clark, in her bid to become the party’s assistant house speaker.

Although he praised the Melrose congresswoman, Moulton also had praise for Rhode Island’s David Cicilline, who is also pursuing the position. He said that he has not yet taken a position in that race.

He was quick, however, to dispel speculation that, in the wake of his presidential bid, he might be seeking other positions.

Asked whether he would consider an appointment by Biden, who Moulton endorsed shortly after dropping out of the Democratic nomination race himself, he said “I’m very happy in Salem and I love this job; I am absolutely not going to join the Biden administration” in 2021.

He also denied any interest in running in a potential special election for U.S. Senate, if Sen. Elizabeth Warren left for an administration post.