Pelosi holdouts negotiating deal to limit her term as speaker

Trump spars with top Democrats over border wall funding

WASHINGTON — At least five Democrats who have pledged to oppose Nancy Pelosi in her bid to become speaker of the House are nearing a deal to support her as long as she limits her leadership to no more than four more years, according to multiple people familiar with the talks.

Reps. Ed Perlmutter, D-California, Linda Sanchez, D-California, and Bill Foster, D-Illinois, met with Pelosi on Tuesday about the potential agreement, which is still not finalized. Full details of emerging agreement were not immediately available, but the talks are designed to find Pelosi enough votes to comfortably win the speakership in a Jan. 3 vote on the floor of the House and for holdouts concerned about another open-ended speakership to extract concessions from her.

The other Democrats who are open to supporting Pelosi if the deal is finalized include Filemon Vela of Texas and Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, who have been vocal critics of her continued leadership.

Under the agreement, Pelosi would lead her caucus for no more than four years — two years now and another two years after that if she receives the support of two-thirds of the caucus, according to a source familiar with the deal. Pelosi would also abide by the agreement even if the caucus does not vote to implement it, according to a source familiar with the talks.

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

News of the talks were was first reported by Politico.

Sen. Schumer & Rep. Pelosi talk to reporters

Word of an emerging agreement came on an already busy day for Pelosi, who sparred with President Trump over a potential partial government shutdown in an unprecedented televised exchange in the Oval Office. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, urged Trump to accept a bipartisan, bicameral agreement that would provide continued funding for border security, but at levels far below his $5 billion request for continued construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Pelosi easily won a majority of support in Democratic caucus elections last month by a vote of 203 to 32 with four blank or "present" votes. Since then, one person who voted against her in caucus, Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch, announced he would support her because she promised the new Congress would represent the priorities of average working families. She still needs to win over 17 more Democrats to secure the job in January. Four members who voted for her in caucus are from territories that do not have a vote on the House floor.

The anti-Pelosi faction includes incumbents who have called for her to step aside and newly-elected members who called for new leadership during their campaigns, often under pressure from a barrage of negative advertising by Republicans. Not everyone who opposes her has confirmed they support the four-year deal.

The current trio of Democratic leaders — Pelosi, 78, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, 79, of Maryland and Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, 78, of South Carolina — have all sat atop the party for more than a decade. The deal being negotiated by the rebel group would limit Hoyer and Clyburn's tenure as well.

All have resisted the idea of stepping aside before having another chance to lead the Democrats in the majority, a chance they have not had since losing the House in 2010. During a roundtable with reporters Tuesday, Hoyer chafed at reports Pelosi was trying to negotiate term limits for the top team.

"I am against term limits because I have a term limit. It's a two-year term limit. And every year, the citizens that I represent and the members in this House have to re-up my contract," he said.

"She's not negotiating for me," he added. 

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