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 PelosiConservatives erupt in outrage against budget deal Grassley, Wyden reach deal to lower drug prices Why do Republicans keep trying to outspend Democrats in Congress? 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 HoyerHouse Problem Solvers are bringing real change to Congress Israel vote will expose Democratic divisions This week: Mueller dominates chaotic week on Capitol Hill 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 said “there was a parliamentary discussion and the motion was withdrawn and we’ll consider it after the election.”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 PerlmutterHillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp On The Money: Liberal Dems warn moderates against changes to minimum wage bill | House grapples with Facebook's Libra | Congress, White House inch closer to budget deal | Blue states sue over tax law regulations House asks Facebook: 'What is Libra?' MORE (D-Colo.) and Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceDemocrat offers measure to prevent lawmakers from sleeping in their offices Hillicon Valley: Pelosi blasts Facebook for not taking down doctored video | Democrats push election security after Mueller warning | Critics dismiss FCC report on broadband access | Uber to ban passengers with low ratings Lawmakers raise security concerns about China building NYC subway cars 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 FrankelLawmakers concede they might have to pass a dreaded 'CR' Hillicon Valley: Trump officials to investigate French tax on tech giants | Fed chair raises concerns about Facebook's crypto project | FCC blocks part of San Francisco law on broadband competition | House members warn of disinformation 'battle' Lawmakers, experts see combating Russian disinformation as a 'battle' 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 PocanHouse Democrats delete tweets attacking each other, pledge to unify The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment 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 RyanDemocratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage The Hill's Campaign Report: Second debate lineups set up high-profile clash 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 KindProtect American patients and innovation from a harmful MedTech Tax increase We should repeal the medical device tax on veterans House panel approves bills on tax extenders, expanding tax credits 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.