House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi cut a deal with dissident Democrats to lock up the speakership they wanted to deny her but the agreement would see her out of leadership in four years.
The deal paves the way for Pelosi to be speaker of the House – and President Donald Trump’s top Democratic foe in Congress – when the Jan. 3 roll call vote for speaker takes place.
It’s a major victory for the Democratic leader and returns her to the number two in line for the presidency eight years after she lost the speaker’s gavel.
The limits on her return to power come as the price Democratic rebels demanded in payment for their support.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi cut a deal with dissident Democrats to put her back in the speaker’s chair
Her street cred rose after she stood firm to President Trump in Tuesday’s Oval Office meeting
Seven of the Democrats rebelling against her released a joint statement Tuesday night endorsing her for speaker.
‘We wish to thank Nancy Pelosi for her willingness to work with us to reach this agreement,’ they said. ‘We are proud that our agreement will make lasting institutional change that will strengthen our caucus and will help develop the next generation of Democratic leaders. We will support and vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House in the 116th Congress.’
Under the agreement, Pelosi will not retaliate against the dissidents, sources told
As speaker, she could make their lives miserable by keeping them off powerful committees and refusing to move their legislation to the House floor.
The rebels pushed her to promise no retaliation, calling for ‘fair treatment’ of her critics.
Pelosi became first female speaker of the House in 2007 only to lose power in 2011 when Democrats lost the lower chamber.
After Democrats picked up 40 House seats in November, a new generation of lawmakers – many of whom wouldn’t say on the campaign trail if they’d vote for Pelosi for speaker – pushed for a change in leadership to bring about a fresh face to challenge Trump.
Under the agreement to keep her in power, top Democratic leaders would only be allowed to serve for three terms in the party’s top three leadership positions. An extension of that would require a two-thirds majority in the Democratic Caucus.
The new rules would apply retroactively, meaning the top three leaders in the Democratic Party – Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn would all fall under them and could not serve in their leadership slots beyond 2020 without approval of two-thirds of House Democrats.
‘Over the summer, I made it clear that I see myself as a bridge to the next generation of leaders, a recognition of my continuing responsibility to mentor and advance new Members into positions of power and responsibility in the House Democratic Caucus,’ Pelosi, 78, said in a statement Wednesday night announcing the deal.
‘For some time, there have been a number of conversations to advance a proposal to institute term limits for senior leadership positions in our Caucus,’ she added.
The rules change will be brought before House Democrats for a vote by Feb. 15th.
However Pelosi said she will abide by them whether the party passes them or not.
‘I am comfortable with the proposal and it is my intention to abide by it whether it passes or not,’ she said in her statement.
Pelosi came into leadership negotiations with a strong hand: she is a prolific fundraiser for Democrats, one of the best vote counters to serve in Congress and known to rule her conference with an iron fist in her velvet glove.
But her street cred rose after she stood firm to President Donald Trump in Tuesday’s shocking Oval Office meeting that devolved into the president, Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer shouting at each other over funding for the president’s billion-dollar border wall.
She kept her composure during the ruckus, which began after she pointedly told the president to keep the government open to avoid a ‘Trump shutdown.’
‘A what,’ Trump said.
‘A Trump shutdown,’ she replied.
And her conversation with him echoed an argument she’s made with Democrats about why she should be speaker – that it’s valuable to have a woman at the table.
The president seemed to refer to her leadership battle when he said: ‘Nancy’s in a situation where it’s not easy for her to talk right now, and I understand, and I fully understand that.’
‘Please don’t characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting,’ she responded.
Adding to her cachet, when Pelosi departed the White House, she put on her sunglasses, a move that became subject to a thousand internet memes.
The meeting to finalize the leadership deal with the dissident Dems took place in Pelosi’s office in the Capitol, shortly after her showdown with Trump,
Pelosi would be limited in her return to power – only able to serve as speaker for four years
Pelosi became the first female speaker of the House in 2007
One stumbling block to the deal could be Hoyer, 79, who would see his dreams of being speaker get dashed under the deal.
‘She’s not negotiating for me,’ he told reporters in the Capitol.
‘I’m not for term limits. Is anybody confused? I am not for term limits. I … am … not … for … term … limits,’ he enunciated.
Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn, 78, have sat atop House Democrats’ leadership for a decade, which led to the rumblings from a younger generation of lawmakers who wanted a seat at the table.