Hoyer questions feasibility of new threshold for Speaker nomination

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

Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi's staff huddles with aides in both parties on 'surprise' medical billing House panel approves bill to grant DC statehood Democrats bullish on bill to create women's history museum: 'It's an election year' 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 SánchezFive things to watch for at this year's Oscars Klobuchar wins endorsement of prominent Hispanic lawmaker Linda Sanchez Democrats slam Trump for USMCA signing snub 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 Perlmutter2019 was a historic year for marijuana law reform — here's why Impeachment surprise: Bills Congress could actually pass in 2020 Financial sector's work on SAFE Banking Act shows together, everyone achieves more MORE (D-Colo.) and Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceButtigieg plans NY fundraiser with Michael J. Fox House Dems demand answers regarding holding of Iranian-Americans at border Buttigieg picks up third congressional endorsement from New York lawmaker MORE (D-N.Y.), the change has been widely interpreted as an effort to prevent Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMalaysia says it will choose 5G partners based on own standards, not US recommendations Pelosi warns allies against using Huawei Budget hawks frustrated by 2020 politics in entitlement reform fight 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 ClyburnDemocratic rivals sharpen attacks as Bloomberg rises Rep. Cunningham blasts Sanders: 'South Carolinians don't want socialism' House Majority Whip: DNC shouldn't change rules for Bloomberg 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) RyanDemocrats tear into Trump's speech: It was a 'MAGA rally' Democrats walk out of Trump's address: 'It's like watching professional wrestling' Trump set to confront his impeachment foes 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].”