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

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiSenators restart shutdown talks — and quickly hit roadblocks On The Money: Shutdown hits Day 24 | Trump touts need for wall in speech to farmers | Poll numbers sag | House Dems push stopgap bills | How the shutdown could harm the economy | TSA absences raise stakes for deal Feehery: Current shutdown impasse is a fight over peanuts 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 HoyerThis week: No signs of urgency as shutdown enters fourth week Overnight Energy: House votes to reopen Interior, EPA | Dems question EPA over Wheeler confirmation prep | Virginia Dem backs Green New Deal House votes to reopen Interior, EPA as shutdown fight wages on 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 Wilbur MoultonDemocrats must prove they are worthy of their House majority This week: Shutdown showdown looms over new Congress House lawmakers look to reassure Australia after Mattis resignation 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 PerlmutterThis week: Shutdown showdown looms over new Congress House lawmakers look to reassure Australia after Mattis resignation Term limit fight highlights growing pains for Pelosi’s majority MORE (Colo.); Rep. Bill FosterGeorge (Bill) William FosterThis week: Shutdown showdown looms over new Congress Dem calls for closing lawmaker gym, sauna during shutdown Pelosi agrees to term limits vote; insurgency collapses MORE (Ill.); and Rep. Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaNew Dem caucus chairman: Some wall is good, but not new wall Border lawmakers press Trump to beef up existing security Texas lawmaker: Fund ports of entry, not wall 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.