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 PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure 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 HoyerSenators say they've reached deal on Puerto Rico aid 5 things to watch as Trump, Dems clash over investigations GOP lawmaker: Trump has engaged in multiple actions that 'meet the threshold for impeachment' 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 said “there was a parliamentary discussion and the motion was withdrawn and we’ll consider it after the election.”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.

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Spearheaded by Reps. Ed PerlmutterEdwin (Ed) George PerlmutterColorado governor says he won't sign bill that aims to increase vaccination rates without key changes Congress can open financial institutions to legal cannabis industry with SAFE Banking Act 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE (D-Colo.) and Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceSinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race Hillicon Valley: Instagram cracks down on anti-vaccine tags | Facebook co-founder on fallout from call to break up company | House Dems reintroduce election security bill | Lawmakers offer bill requiring cyber, IT training for House Lawmakers offer measure requiring cyber, IT training for House 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 FrankelRepublicans amp up attacks on Tlaib's Holocaust comments Overnight Health Care: Biden backs Medicare buy-in | New warnings as measles cases surpass record | House Dems propose M to study gun violence prevention House Democrats seek to protect Planned Parenthood from Trump's funding cuts 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 PocanDems walk Trump trade tightrope Hoyer defends Tlaib Holocaust remarks after criticism from GOP Delta Airlines slammed for poster suggesting employees buy video games instead of paying union dues 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 RyanThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget CNN announces four more town halls featuring 2020 Dems De Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' 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 KindDems walk Trump trade tightrope Dems highlight NYT article on Trump's business losses in 'tax gap' hearing Congress can retire the retirement crisis 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.