WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Nancy Pelosi all but ensured Wednesday that she will become House speaker next month, quelling a revolt by disgruntled younger Democrats by agreeing to limit her tenure to no more than four additional years in the chamber's top post.
Moments after releasing a statement saying she was "comfortable with the proposal," seven of her critics distributed their own joint comment, pledging to back the 78-year-old Pelosi. The California Democrat previously served as speaker from 2007 until January 2011, the last time the party controlled the chamber.
"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," the rebellious lawmakers said.
Wednesday’s accord gives Pelosi a clear path to becoming the most powerful Democrat in government. It would also give her a top role in confronting President Trump during the forthcoming 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns and put a woman at the helm of next year’s diverse crop of House Democrats.
Pelosi showcased that function on Tuesday, when Trump turned a White House meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) into a nationally televised verbal donnybrook over the president’s demands for congressional approval of $5 billion for his proposed border wall with Mexico. Pelosi won high marks from fellow Democrats for firmly but calmly going toe-to-toe with Trump.
The pact followed weeks of harsh public battles among Democrats and an all-out lobbying campaign by Pelosi, and her allies. It all but guarantees that she will win the votes she will need to regain her job when the new Congress convenes Jan. 3. She’ll need a majority of voting House members, probably 218 votes, with outnumbered Republicans likely to oppose her unanimously.
As the price for winning decisive support from her opponents, Pelosi has agreed in effect to serve no more than four more years as speaker.
Under the plan, top House Democrats would be limited to four two-year terms in their posts, including terms they've already served while the party had the House majority.
To be nominated to a fourth term, Pelosi would need to garner a two-thirds majority of House Democrats. Several aides said they believed restlessness by younger members to move up in leadership would make that difficult for her to achieve.
Pelosi, No. 2 Democratic leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and No. 3 leader James Clyburn of South Carolina are all in their late 70s. The new restrictions would apply to all of them.