By TOM RAUM, Associated Press
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi's decision to serve another term in that post will probably have a big influence on efforts by President Barack Obama and Congress to reach an agreement to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.
Pelosi announced Wednesday she'll continue to lead her party in the House despite the Democrats' failure to win back the majority it lost in 2010. "We have work to do," she said. "It isn't about the gavel, although we'd like to have it."
Obama and leaders of both parties have sounded conciliatory since his re-election last week, saying they'll work together toward a deficit-trimming budget deal to ward off automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts set to take effect in January.
Obama urged Congress on Wednesday to vote first to extend expiring tax breaks for the middle class, then turn to his proposal to raise them on households earning over $250,000. "We should not hold the middle-class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy," he said at a White House news conference.
Republicans oppose any increase in tax rates and want spending cuts in "entitlement" programs.
Pelosi has been one of the biggest defenders of entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. And she gave no ground Wednesday.
While saying "everything is on the table" in talks that Obama will convene on Friday with congressional leaders, Pelosi also said she'll continue to resist efforts to pare back either program.
If Pelosi, 72, hadn't sought the Democratic leadership post again, it probably would have gone to either Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland or Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina.
She said she didn't want to lose her place at the negotiating table with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Republican House Speaker John Boehner. "The thought of four men at that table" wouldn't exactly square with her longtime goal to "empower women in the workplace," she suggested.
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