House Dems punt action on rule change for Speaker nominee

House Dems punt action on rule change for Speaker nominee
© Greg Nash

House Democrats on Wednesday punted on consideration of an internal rule change that would have made it tougher for Speaker hopefuls to secure the party’s nomination, marking a victory for Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiHillicon Valley: Social media faces scrutiny after New Zealand attacks | YouTube removed 'tens of thousands' of shooting videos | DHS chief warns of state-backed cyber threats | House Dems plan April vote on net neutrality Republican senators who voted against Trump have no excuses Manchin says he won't support LGBTQ protection bill as written MORE (D-Calif.), who wants to reclaim the gavel next year.

Leaving a weekly meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol basement, Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHillicon Valley: Social media faces scrutiny after New Zealand attacks | YouTube removed 'tens of thousands' of shooting videos | DHS chief warns of state-backed cyber threats | House Dems plan April vote on net neutrality House to take up gender pay gap, Violence Against Women Act House Dems plan April vote on net neutrality bill MORE (D-Md.) said “there was a parliamentary discussion and the motion was withdrawn and we’ll consider it after the election.”

In a separate win for Pelosi and her allies, Democrats also voted to move up the post-election leadership elections to a date no later than Nov. 28 — a week earlier than the initial Dec. 5 window.

The proposed change surrounding the Speaker nominee was championed by a small group of Democratic insurgents who are fighting for generational change at the very top of the party and want to nudge the 78-year-old Pelosi out of the leadership ranks after the elections.


Spearheaded by Reps. Ed PerlmutterEdwin (Ed) George PerlmutterTime to bank the unbanked legal marijuana industry in this nation New push to open banks to marijuana industry Businesses need bank accounts — marijuana shops included MORE (D-Colo.) and Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceNew York Rep. Maloney endorses Gillibrand for president Hispanic Dems ask for multi-agency meeting on family separations The Hill's 12:30 Report: O'Rourke jumps into 2020 fray MORE (D-N.Y.), the proposal would have required Democrats seeking the Speaker’s gavel to secure 218 votes within the Caucus during the closed-ballot contest that precedes the public vote of the full House on the chamber floor. The 218 figure is a sharp jump above the current threshold for winning the nomination, which requires just a simple majority of the Caucus.

Perlmutter said he withdrew his proposal for the sake of uniting the party heading into November’s midterms.

“I withdrew it because we want make sure we win the election, and be united going into the election that this is a matter to be discussed after the election,” he said.

Perlmutter said he also delayed the process to empower new members who will be coming to Washington next year but aren’t yet in Congress to vote.

“It’s a real discussion over an issue in our rules that, in my opinion, has to be corrected,” he said.

But Rice, who left the meeting agitated, suggested Pelosi and her allies rigged the process to block a vote from happening sooner.

“All I have to say is that what happened in that room is exactly why we keep losing and why we never get anywhere,” she said. “That’s all I have to say.”

Rep. Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — FDA issues proposal to limit sales of flavored e-cigs | Trump health chief gets grilling | Divisions emerge over House drug pricing bills | Dems launch investigation into short-term health plans Dems call on Trump to fire Acosta Lawmakers wear white to State of the Union to show solidarity with women MORE (D-Fla.), a Pelosi ally, said part of the frustration stemmed from the short window of time lawmakers were given to talk about the issue.

The 9 a.m. Caucus meeting was scheduled to end at 10 a.m., and the topic of the rules change was not started until 9:55, according to a senior aide.

“This took up, like, five minutes, and I think a lot of people were annoyed about that, that we weren’t getting enough time to even discuss it,” Frankel said.

Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanTwo lawmakers just debated the merits of Nickelback on the House floor On The Money: Mnuchin urges Congress to raise debt limit 'as soon as possible' | NY officials subpoena Trump Org's longtime insurer | Dems offer bill to tax financial transactions Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez back 'end the forever war' pledge MORE (D-Wis.), head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said the Caucus simply ran out of time to discuss the issue.

“It’s not even to the merits of the rule change, it’s more to the timing,” Pocan said.

Pelosi has led the party since 2003, becoming the first female Speaker in the nation’s history when she took the gavel in 2007.

In 2010, the Democrats lost control of the chamber to a red wave, and on two occasions since then Pelosi has faced a formal challenge to her leadership post. She won easily in both contests, though her opposition has slowly grown.

In 2010, her challenger was former Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), who won 43 votes. In 2016, Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanHillicon Valley: Google takes heat at privacy hearing | 2020 Dems to debate 'monopoly power' | GOP rips net neutrality bill | Warren throws down gauntlet over big tech | New scrutiny for Trump over AT&T merger 2020 Dem candidates to hold debate on 'monopoly power' Tim Ryan ‘seriously considering’ 2020 bid MORE (D-Ohio) won 63 votes.

Pelosi’s detractors are hoping the creep of opposition becomes a wave after this year’s midterms, and are encouraged by the dozens of new Democratic candidates around the country who have told voters they’ll reject Pelosi for Speaker if they’re sent to Washington next year.

Rep. Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Democrats, Trump battle over 75 'pivot' counties in Midwest Koch-backed group pushes for new limits on Trump's tariff authority MORE (D-Wis.), who has opposed Pelosi’s grip on leadership, said the rule change proposal will prevent an embarrassing scenario in which a Speaker nominee gets to the floor but can’t win the votes to secure the gavel.

“I’m supportive of it, because whoever’s going to be the next Speaker needs to get 218 on the floor,” he said. “So I’d rather decide that in Caucus rather than having a huge blow-up on the floor.”

Pelosi maintains plenty of support in the liberal-leaning Caucus, however, and a victory for the Democrats in November would eliminate the argument that the Democrats simply can’t win as long as she is the public face of the party — one of the central criticisms against her.