(CNSNews.com) - In a 149-86 vote, House Democrats Thursday elected Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland as House majority leader, delivering a defeat to Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania and a snub to new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had supported the losing candidate.
Before introducing Hoyer at a press conference following the vote, Pelosi -- whose elevation to Speaker was formalized earlier in the day -- thanked Murtha for his "magnificent contributions" to the debate on Iraq.
Pelosi said she had supported his candidacy for House majority leader because she thought it "would be the best way to bring an end to the war in Iraq."
Pelosi then congratulated Hoyer, who ran against her in the past. "We've had our debates, we've had our differences," Pelosi said of Hoyer. "As we say in church: Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with us. Let the healing begin."
Hoyer praised Pelosi, saying, "She is the first woman speaker because she is a person of deep values, keen intellect and extraordinary political ability."
Hoyer pledged to work hard to ensure the agenda of the American people, Pelosi, and the Democratic Party. He said that agenda includes a "transition in Iraq," as the current course was not working.
Hoyer also acknowledged the differences he and Murtha have had in the past, but he praised Murtha for being "a courageous and outspoken leader" for the anti-war movement.
"We have had differences, Jack Murtha and I, but Jack Murtha will continue to be one of the most significant leaders in the Congress of the United States as chairman of the Defense Appropriations Committee," Hoyer added.
Among Democratic lawmakers who earlier endorsed Murtha was California Democrat Rep. Mike Honda, who praised the Pennsylvania candidate for his stance on Iraq.
"Jack's principled and withering critique of America's role in Iraq must be largely credited for exposing the Administration's lies and fatal mistakes, and for moving public opinion in the direction of sanity," Honda wrote on the liberal Huffington Post blog.
See Earlier Stories:
Murtha's Anti-War Stance Overshadows Abscam Past (Jan. 13, 2006)
Murtha's War Hero Status Called Into Question (Jan. 13, 2006)
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