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 PelosiUSMCA is nice but no model Anti-impeachment Democrat poised to switch parties Grassley urges White House to help farmers in year-end tax talks 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 RichmondRepublicans knock Dem after video appears to show him watching golf at impeachment hearing Booker unveils legislation for federal bill to ban discrimination against natural hair Hillicon Valley: Senators ask Trump to halt Huawei licenses | Warren criticizes Zuckerberg over secret dinner with Trump | Senior DHS cyber official to leave | Dems offer bill on Libra oversight MORE (D-La.), the CBC chairman, and Karen BassKaren Ruth BassSunday Talk Shows: Lawmakers look ahead to House vote on articles of impeachment, Senate trial Parties clash as impeachment articles move closer to House vote Democratic lawmaker open to pursuing impeachment again if Trump wins in 2020 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 JohnsonPelosi heading to Madrid for UN climate change convention What has EPA been hiding about formaldehyde? Overnight Energy: House Science Committee hits EPA with subpoenas | California sues EPA over Trump revoking emissions waiver | Interior disbands board that floated privatization at national parks 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 ThompsonOvernight Defense: Watchdog to audit company's border wall contract | Pentagon to step up vetting of foreign students after Pensacola | Report finds former defense official sexually harassed staffers Senate bill would give DHS cyber agency subpoena powers Pentagon watchdog to audit North Dakota company's border wall contract 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 WatersSupreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records Trump tweet mocking Greta Thunberg sparks backlash Melania Trump's 'Be Best' hashtag trends after president goes after Greta Thunberg MORE (D-Calif.), who will chair the Financial Services Committee next year, and Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsCongressional investigation finds Coast Guard leadership fell short on handling bullying Trump request for Ukrainian 'favor' tops notable quote list Impeachment can't wait 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.