House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Democrats who oppose her bid to become speaker next month are discussing the possibility of imposing term limits on party leaders, a Pelosi aide confirmed to Fox News Wednesday.
“There are various conversations going on about a path forward,” the aide told Fox. “Progress has been made and the conversations are constructive because all involved care about the institution of the House of Representatives.”
The Associated Press, citing people familiar with the talks, reported that new rules are being discussed that would likely limit party leaders to three two-year terms. If adopted, the proposal could restrict Pelosi to just two more years as Democratic leader.
The plan represents a narrowing of a package Democrats had considered that also would have restricted the number of years lawmakers could serve as House committee chairs. The idea of curbing the power of seniority has encountered blistering criticism from long-time lawmakers and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, several of whose members are in line to lead committees.
Pelosi will likely need 218 votes to return to the speakership when the full House convenes Jan. 3. Democrats will have at least 235 House seats — pending the final outcome of a disputed election in a North Carolina district — but a handful of Democrats have said it is time for change at the top of the caucus.
Party rebels say it’s time for Pelosi and her two top lieutenants, No. 2 leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and No. 3 leader Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, to step aside and make room for a new generation. Pelosi, 78, has led House Democrats since 2003 while Hoyer, 79, and Clyburn, 78, have also led for years.
Under the proposal reported by AP, prior terms as leaders while Democrats had the majority would count. That could well mean Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn would have one term left as leaders.
They could win a fourth term but by a supermajority vote, perhaps a two-thirds margin. Several Democrats said that seemed unlikely at a time when ambitious rank-and-file members are eager to ascend the leadership ranks.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., Congressional Black Caucus chairman, criticized the proposal. He said party leaders are “people who’ve earned it” and added, “I don’t see what problem we’re trying to fix.”
Democrats said they would consider whether to clamp term limits on committee chairs early next year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.