A day after a televised confrontation with President Trump underscored why she’s the only woman for the job, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appears to be a lock to return as the Speaker of the House in January.
Many of the leaders of an insurgency to deny her the gavel reversed their position Wednesday, citing an agreement for the House to vote on term limits for top Democratic leadership.
The agreement could spur turnover among senior party positions. The rule to be voted on creates a three-term (six-year) limit for top House leaders, with a fourth term possible with a two-thirds majority backing from the Democratic caucus. The agreement is retroactive to include the two terms Democrats last served in the majority, from 2007 to 2011. “I am comfortable with the proposal and it is my intention to abide by it whether it passes or not,” Pelosi said, effectively limiting her to a maximum of two more terms as Speaker.
The accord brings to an end a clumsy putsch attempt. Anti-Pelosi forces had tried to rally a rejectionist bloc, with the aim of denying Pelosi the 218 House floor votes needed to secure the Speakership — despite her having been nominated for the post with nearly 90-percent party support. These insurgents, however, never rallied around an alternate candidate. The one congresswoman whose name they lofted, Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, was quickly dissuaded from running, and backed Pelosi publicly.
Pelosi does not appear to have given up any significant ground in the new bargain. “Over the summer,” she said, “I made it clear that I see myself as a bridge to the next generation of leaders” — suggesting that she did not aim for a lengthy return tenure as Speaker.
But the agreement gives cover to insurgents to stand down, by appearing to have forced a shakeup.
A group of six former rejectionists, including Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Tim Ryan of Ohio, issued a statement thanking Pelosi for working with them on a deal. “We are proud that our agreement will make lasting institutional change,” they said, “and will help develop the next generation of Democratic leaders. We will support and vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House.”
If adopted, the term-limit rule would most affect the top deputies in leadership, Reps. Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn, who could be blocked from their own bids for Speaker.
Who is being groomed to step into Pelosi’s shoes instead? Ben Ray Luján, who led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and oversaw the Blue Wave that netted House Democrats 40 seats, has won the number-four spot in Democratic leadership. And the title for that post has been upgraded. It’s no longer assistant majority leader. Now, it’s assistant Speaker.