Pelosi allies push back on proposed Speaker nominee rule change

A group of House Democrats is pushing back against a contentious proposal that would make it tougher for Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Calif.) — or any Speaker hopeful — to secure the party’s nomination.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent Monday, more than a dozen Pelosi allies urged fellow caucus members to reject the proposed internal rule change, which would significantly raise the threshold that it takes to become the party’s nominee. The group said such a change would undermine “Democratic unity, coherence and effectiveness.”

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“Now that we are finally in the Majority, it will be baffling to the public and self-defeating to block the Caucus’ choice on the floor, either through a formal change to the Rules or an informal abandonment of the Caucus,” the lawmakers wrote. "We should stand by the Rules which have served us well rather than alter our long-standing Rules and court strategic mischief and endless ballots."     

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“It is also troubling to hear reports that Members are being urged to repudiate the choice of the Caucus before we have even met. Just as Nancy Pelosi’s supporters should fairly hear out other candidates, her skeptics should hear her out too,” they said.

The proposal in question would have required any Democrat seeking the Speaker’s gavel to secure 218 votes during the closed-door caucus vote that occurs prior to a public floor vote with the entire House. The current threshold for winning the nomination requires just a simple majority of the caucus.

The idea was championed by a small yet vocal 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.

Initially, 11 Democrats signed a letter pushing for the rule change before the midterm elections, but they ultimately withdrew their effort for the sake of party unity. Last week, nine Democrats again signed on to a similar letter.

Rep. Ed PerlmutterEdwin (Ed) George PerlmutterTrump snubs highlight Pelosi’s grip on Dems This week: Shutdown showdown looms over new Congress House lawmakers look to reassure Australia after Mattis resignation MORE (D-Colo.), a Pelosi opponent who sponsored the internal rule change, said it's unclear if his amendment will receive a vote ahead of the leadership elections, which are scheduled for Nov. 28.

"That remains to be seen ... whether we even take a vote on Rule 34 or not," he said. "What I asked for is that we have a discussion about it next week. … Not a vote, a discussion.”

His amendment would also change the language of the current rule to reflect that, when a majority of the caucus votes to pick the Speaker nominee, it does not bind all members to support that nominee on the floor.

Mike Lillis contributed.