Pelosi, Dem rebels near deal on term limits for party leaders

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPence says it's 'vital' for Congress to pass US-Mexico-Canada trade deal The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump heads to California Obama, Bush among those paying tribute to Cokie Roberts: 'A trailblazing figure' MORE (D-Calif.) is closing in on a deal with some of her fiercest Democratic critics to support term limits for party leaders — a move that would likely pave the way for her to clinch the Speaker’s gavel in January.

The tentative agreement, which was first reported by Politico on Tuesday night, would involve Pelosi publicly supporting a caucus rule to impose a three-term limit on the top three members of Democratic leadership, according to sources familiar with the matter. The deal was about “98 percent” of the way done, one source added.

"There are various conversations going on about a path forward," an aide for Pelosi said. "Progress has been made and the conversations are constructive because all involved care about the institution of the House of Representatives."

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Under the proposal, if leaders want to run for a fourth term, they would need the support of two-thirds of the Democratic conference — a much higher threshold than the simple majority currently required in conference.

The term limits would also apply retroactively, meaning Pelosi, House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats headed for a subpoena showdown with White House Election security funds caught in crosshairs of spending debate New storm rises over Kavanaugh MORE (D-Md.), and Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) would all be term-limited after 2020, unless they ran for another leadership post or sought a fourth term.

Such a dramatic rule change would have to win approval from the conference, but under the tentative deal, Pelosi would agree to apply the term limits to herself regardless. That means the latest Pelosi can stay on as Speaker is 2022, if she is able to secure a fourth term.

The agreement is expected to win over at least five Democratic holdouts: Rep. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonYoung insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Wall Street ends volatile month in major test for Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Hurricane headed for Florida changes Trump's travel plans MORE (Mass.), one of the ringleaders who organized a conference call Tuesday morning to talk about the tentative agreement; Rep. Linda Sánchez (Calif.), a member of leadership; Rep. Ed PerlmutterEdwin (Ed) George PerlmutterMarijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis Appetite for Democratic term limits fizzling out Hillicon 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 MORE (Colo.); Rep. Bill FosterGeorge (Bill) William FosterHouse Democrats blur lines on support for impeachment The Hill's Morning Report - Dem lawmakers put guns, hate groups on fall agenda House Democrat offers bill to let students with pot conviction retain federal aid MORE (Ill.); and Rep. Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaDCCC faces mass staff shakeup: 'It's the Monday Night Massacre' DCCC exec resigns amid furor over minority representation Hispanic Democratic lawmakers hit DCCC over lack of diversity in top ranks MORE (Texas).

The detractors had been demanding generational change in the leadership ranks and insisted that Pelosi publicly commit to when she plans to step down as Speaker, but the longtime Democratic leader refused to “lame duck” herself by naming her end-date. The emerging deal appears to be a compromise between the two sides.

But there was already fierce pushback — including from Pelosi’s top deputies and some members of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus — to the idea of term limits as early reports about the deal started to surface on Monday and Tuesday.

“She’s not negotiating for me,” Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, said tersely during a press briefing in the Capitol.

Mike Lillis contributed.