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 PelosiWhy President Trump needs to speak out on Hong Kong Anti-Trump vets join Steyer group in pressing Democrats to impeach Trump Pelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid 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.

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 RichmondHouse Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' Embattled Juul seeks allies in Washington Democratic lawmakers support Bustos after DCCC resignations MORE (D-La.), the CBC chairman, and Karen BassKaren Ruth BassKing incites furor with abortion, rape and incest remarks Reuniting families is a critical step in diplomacy with North Korea Democrats warn of Trump trap 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.

“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 JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump applauds two-year budget deal with 0 billion spending hike Overnight Energy: Historic heat wave is double whammy for climate change | Trump sees 'bigger problems' than plastic straws | House Science chair threatens EPA over 'stonewalled' answers Science committee chair threatens EPA over 'stonewalled' answers to lawmakers 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.”

Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHillicon Valley: House panel subpoenas 8chan owner | FCC takes step forward on T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Warren wants probe into FTC over Equifax settlement | Groups make new push to end surveillance program House Homeland Security Committee subpoenas 8chan owner What Mississippi ICE raids mean for vulnerable workers 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 WatersF-bombs away: Why lawmakers are cursing now more than ever Banks give Congress, New York AG documents related to Russians who may have dealt with Trump: report Maxine Waters: Force us to ban assault weapons 'or kick our a--- out of Congress!' MORE (D-Calif.), who will chair the Financial Services Committee next year, and Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsCan the Democrats unseat Trump? Democrats slam alleged politicization of Trump State Department after IG report Senior Trump officials accused of harassing, retaliating against career State Dept. employees 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.