Black Caucus huddles as talk of term limits heats up

Leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) huddled Monday night in the Capitol as the push for term limits for committee chairmanships and leadership spots heats up among House Democrats.

A number of senior CBC members are in line to take committee gavels next Congress and the group has quickly rallied against the notion that gavels would be term-limited just as they’re about to ascend to those chairmanship seats.

Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiLawmakers outline proposals for virtual voting Mattis defends Pentagon IG removed by Trump Overnight Health Care: Trump calls report on hospital shortages 'another fake dossier' | Trump weighs freezing funding to WHO | NY sees another 731 deaths | States battle for supplies | McConnell, Schumer headed for clash MORE (D-Calif.), who’s seeking another stint as House Speaker, has been in talks with members of a small group of anti-Pelosi insurgents about adopting a cap on the number of years an individual lawmaker could retain a committee gavel or leadership post.

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Those proposals could both assuage clamor among younger members for more influence within the caucus and help Pelosi pick off some opponents threatening to block her path to the Speaker’s gavel.

The Democrats are scheduled to meet in the Capitol Tuesday morning, when the topic of term-limits is sure to arise.

To get a jump on that discussion, Reps. Cedric RichmondCedric Levon RichmondHillicon Valley: House passes key surveillance bill | Paul, Lee urge Trump to kill FISA deal | White House seeks help from tech in coronavirus fight | Dem urges Pence to counter virus misinformation Lawmakers criticize Trump's slashed budget for key federal cyber agency Government report offers guidelines to prevent nationwide cyber catastrophe MORE (D-La.), the CBC chairman, and Karen BassKaren Ruth BassBiden congratulates Trump on implementing Defense Production Act House Democrats press Barr to protect inmates from coronavirus CBC chair endorses Biden MORE (D-Calif.), who will lead the group next year, met Monday night with a handful of soon-to-be committee chairmen who are members of the caucus to plot a path forward.

Each lawmaker approached afterward said they oppose the idea of capping committee chairmanships and the group thinks that race is underlying the debate.

“Why now? Why are we having this debate now as opposed to having a more thoughtful process? Our newly elected members are not here. And generally for African Americans, the frustrating thing is every time we get to the point where we’re making significant progress, the rules change,” Richmond told The Hill after the CBC meeting. “That was the sentiment of my ranking members who will be come committee chairs, but an overwhelming majority of committee chairs — black, white, Hispanic, Asian — are against it too.

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“Who is this being driven by? What is this a solution to? What’s the problem that this solves? I have not heard anyone articulate a problem that it solves.”

Rep. Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonTexas House Dems ask governor to issue stay-at-home order Hillicon Valley: Democrats in talks to bridge surveillance divide | DHS confident in Super Tuesday election security | State pledges M cyber help to Ukraine | Facebook skipping SXSW amid coronavirus Markey presses facial recognition company over Middle Eastern marketing, potential child privacy violations MORE (D-Texas), who will lead the Science, Space and Technology Committee, had a similar message.

“I’ve worked through the system, worked up the system, followed every rule, and then all of the sudden we’re facing a change,” she said. “It’s not the first experience as an African American to actually have like that.”

Asked if the move to term limit committee chairmanships is based in race, Johnson said that, at the very least, the public perception is such.

“I don’t know if that’s it,” she said, “but the public interprets it that way.”

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Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonDemocrats struggle to keep up with Trump messaging on coronavirus Pelosi forms House committee to oversee coronavirus response Democrats introduce bill to set up commission to review coronavirus response MORE (D-Miss.), who’s poised to chair the Homeland Security Committee, also advocated for keeping the status quo.

“I came here with an understanding of what the rules were,” he said, “and I don’t see any need to change them.”

Also attending Monday’s CBC meeting were Reps. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOvernight Health Care: White House projects grim death toll from coronavirus | Trump warns of 'painful' weeks ahead | US surpasses China in official virus deaths | CDC says 25 percent of cases never show symptoms Democrats, Trump set to battle over implementing T relief bill Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' MORE (D-Calif.), who will chair the Financial Services Committee next year, and Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsMaryland postpones primary over coronavirus fears Maryland governor: 'Simply not enough supplies' on hand to tackle coronavirus Meadows joins White House facing reelection challenges MORE (D-Md.), who will head the Oversight and Government Reform panel.

Tuesday’s meeting of the full Democratic caucus begins at 9 a.m.