Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a group of House Democratic rebels are discussing a proposal to impose term limits on both party leaders and committee chairs, according to four Democratic sources.
Pelosi has been in private talks with a group of rank-and-file House Democrats, who have publicly opposed her bid to return to the speaker’s chair in the next Congress. Pelosi is looking to peel off a handful of those rebels, and allowing a term-limits proposal to move forward could be the price she pays for any such deal, the sources said.
The deal, if accepted, would be a “compromise” between rebel demands that Pelosi put an end date on her leadership and the California Democrat’s insistence that she won’t make herself a lame duck speaker.
A spokesman for Pelosi’s office declined to comment.
Several members of the anti-Pelosi group discussed the potential deal on a conference call Monday morning but nothing was agreed to, according to multiple sources. The details are still being worked out, the Democratic sources said, but a final deal could come together as soon as Monday afternoon.
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While Pelosi can’t bind Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn (S.C.) or other senior Democrats to such a measure, her support — or even benign neutrality — could be a major plus for term-limits backers inside the Democratic Caucus.
The reality is that Pelosi, at age 78, might not have any real worries with a term-limit requirements of 10 to 12 years, (five or six terms), which is under discussion. Hoyer, 79, and Clyburn, 78, might not have any trouble with it either, which also goes for some of the older prospective committee chairs.
Other sources with knowledge of the talks pushed back on the length, saying any deal between the two sides would not include limits as long as 10 to 12 years, although they declined to get more specific.
However, younger committee chair hopefuls and powerful factions within the caucus — such as the Congressional Black Caucus or Hispanic Caucus — might object to the proposal, no matter the length of the term limits.
Yet the majority of rank-and-file House Democrats may support such a plan, since it would give them a chance to move up committee ranks or even into the leadership.
House Democrats will need to deal with the term limits soon as part of the rules package for the 116th Congress being assembled. Republicans have a three-term limit in place for their committee chairs as part of House rules, and Democrats will either have to keep that limit, revise it somehow, or drop it entirely when they take over the House on Jan. 3