Pelosi Agrees To Perlmutter-Brokered Deal That Would Term Limit Top Democrats

December 13, 2018
Photo: Nancy Pelosi - December 2018
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, meets with reporters at her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018.

Democrats have reached a deal with Nancy Pelosi to pave the way for her to secure the votes to become Speaker of the House in January.

Under the proposal, Pelosi would support term limits for the top Democratic House leaders, including herself. The agreement would be retroactive, so Pelosi could serve up to four more years, but her final term would require support from two-thirds of the caucus.

“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 said in a statement.

Pelosi is the only candidate running for Speaker. While she secured the Democratic Party's nomination last month, Pelosi still needed to wrangle more votes to secure a majority on the House floor.

A person familiar with discussions said Democrats wanted to avoid entering the 116th Congressional session leaderless and divided. This agreement will likely quell that intra-party debate.

“An important conversation was started here and going forward I feel confident our leaders will work to share their knowledge, experience and skill with those who aspire to leadership for the sake of our caucus, our party and our country,” said Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter in a statement.

The District 7 representative was a key part in negotiating this deal. He now backs Pelosi for Speaker, as do six other members of Congress who were previously opposed to her election. He said he believes her support for term limits will help create a pipeline for a new group of Democratic leaders.  

“I have pushed for new leadership because I want to see generational change in the Democratic Caucus. I am now convinced that generational change has started and will continue to accelerate,” Perlmutter said.

The term limits would apply to the top three leadership spots. Since Democrats will be in the majority in this case; it’s the Speaker of the House, Majority leader and Whip. Going forward, leaders could serve four terms. Democrats have not yet agreed on term limits for committee chairs.

Regardless of this deal, roughly fifteen Democrats, including incoming Colorado Congressman Jason Crow from the 6th Congressional District, are still firm “no” votes on Pelosi. The opposition group believes there needs to be a new face at the top of the party.

"For me, it’s really about making sure the Democratic party is having a conversation about leadership, about leadership succession, about how do we build the bench in the next generation of folks that can lead our party forward," Crow told CPR News in December.

Colorado's other freshman lawmaker, Joe Neguse of the 2nd Congressional District, has said he will vote for Pelosi.

"I think it's important that we have steady leadership," Neguse said in a November interview with Colorado Matters.

The Democratic leadership bargain follows Pelosi’s and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s tumultuous televised meeting with President Donald Trump on Tuesday. Perlmutter believes Pelosi handled herself well, but said that meeting did not impact these negotiations.

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