Hoyer questions feasibility of new threshold for Speaker nomination

Hoyer questions feasibility of new threshold for Speaker nomination
© Anna Moneymaker

Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse Democrats postpone vote on marijuana decriminalization bill Democrats scramble on COVID-19 relief amid division, Trump surprise The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Pence lauds Harris as 'experienced debater'; Trump, Biden diverge over debate prep MORE (D-Md.) on Tuesday seemed to throw cold water on a nascent effort by insurgent Democrats to raise the bar for nominating a Speaker candidate within the caucus.

Hoyer, the Democratic whip, said raising the nomination threshold to 218 votes, in lieu of a simple majority, is “an interesting idea” but may be unworkable.

“My own view is [that] requiring 218 votes may be requiring a number that, you know, may be 90 percent of the caucus,” Hoyer said during his weekly press briefing in the Capitol. “I don’t know that that’s realistic, in the sense that if you have three or four candidates, it’s very tough to get to that number.”

Last week, a group of 11 Democrats wrote to Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Linda SanchezLinda Teresa SánchezDozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House Five things to watch for at this year's Oscars Klobuchar wins endorsement of prominent Hispanic lawmaker Linda Sanchez MORE (D-Calif.) proposing a change in caucus rules to require the party’s Speaker nominee to win the support of 218 Democrats in the closed-door, private-ballot caucus vote that precedes the public floor vote of the full House.

Led by Reps. Ed PerlmutterEdwin (Ed) George PerlmutterCongress needs to finalize space weather bill as solar storms pose heightened threat OVERNIGHT ENERGY: 20 states sue over Trump rule limiting states from blocking pipeline projects | House Democrats add 'forever chemicals' provisions to defense bill after spiking big amendment | Lawmakers seek extension for tribes to spend stimulus money House Democrats add some 'forever chemicals' provisions to defense bill after spiking major amendment MORE (D-Colo.) and Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceHillicon Valley: Simulated cyberattack success | New bill for election security funding | Amazon could be liable for defective products Lawmakers introduce bill to help election officials address cyber vulnerabilities House lawmakers to launch probe into DHS excluding NY from Trusted Traveler Program MORE (D-N.Y.), the change has been widely interpreted as an effort to prevent Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMcConnell focuses on confirming judicial nominees with COVID-19 talks stalled Overnight Defense: Top admiral says 'no condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' | Intelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings Pelosi must go — the House is in dire need of new leadership MORE (D-Calif.) from keeping her seat at the top of the party, as she’s vowing to do if the Democrats win control of the House in the November midterm elections.

Pelosi and her top lieutenants -- Hoyer and Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnAzar to testify before House coronavirus subcommittee Attacks against the police are organized and violent Clark rolls out endorsements in assistant Speaker race MORE (D-S.C.) -- are all in their late-70s and have held the top leadership spots together since 2006, leaving no room for newer members to rise into those posts. The dynamics have led to plenty of grumbling, particularly among newer members, that the party needs a generation change in the leadership ranks to bring fresh faces and new ideas to the table.

Pelosi’s detractors are facing a major hurdle, however, in their effort to oust her: There’s no obvious, standout candidate with the experience and support to challenge her, particularly if the threshold for the Speaker’s nomination within the Caucus remains a simple majority.

Pelosi has been challenged twice in the past, winning easily both times.

In 2010, after Democrats lost control of the chamber in a red wave, former Rep. Heath Shuler (D) a North Carolina Blue Dog, challenged Pelosi. He was defeated handily in 150-43 vote. Two years ago, Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanLincoln Project hits Trump for criticizing Goodyear, 'an American company' Biden defends Goodyear after Trump urges boycott On The Money: Fed officials saw recovery slowing, virus threat growing | Trump urges boycott of Goodyear tires, prompts backlash | Analysis blames monopoly power for income inequality MORE (D-Ohio) attempted a similar coup. He fared better, winning 63 votes in the closed-ballot contest, but fell well short of Pelosi’s 134 votes.

The 11-member petition proposing the 218 threshold ensures Democrats will discuss the issue on Wednesday, when they meet as a caucus in the basement of the Capitol. It’s unclear if the proposal will receive a vote, or if Pelosi’s supporters will move successfully to scrap the effort. The measure is not expected to pass even if it does receive a vote, according to multiple Democratic aides.

Hoyer on Tuesday suggested he would be among the proposal’s opponents.

“I know what their theory is: They want to make sure that a candidate has 218 Democrats that will vote for him,” he said. “So we’ll discuss that, but I think it has some practical issues as to whether you can get [to 218].”