Singly and in groups, Nancy Pelosi has peeled her Democratic opponents off on her march to reclaim the speaker’s gavel, and late Wednesday she made a decisive move that scooped up seven votes. Those seven votes include some of her top opponents, who can now start worrying about primary challenges to themselves as a result of their shenanigans. The decisive move? Pelosi term limited herself, agreeing to step down as speaker in 2022.
Pelosi had previously framed herself as a transitional leader while younger leaders rose through the ranks, so the new thing here is that she agreed to a specific date, a generous four years down the road. Additionally, she’ll support term limits for the top four Democratic House leaders as a general rule—a move that will include second-in-command Steny Hoyer, with whom she has a sometimes tense relationship and whose rise she has been understood to be blocking.
This new agreement will win over Gnome Kings Seth Moulton and Tim Ryan, as well as Reps. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, Bill Foster of Illinois, Linda Sánchez of California, Filemon Vela of Texas, and Representative-elect Gil Cisneros of California.
Previously, Pelosi got the vote of Rep. Marcia Fudge, the only person who’d actually threatened to run for speaker, by promising her a key subcommittee chair. Rep. Brian Higgins had gotten promises to support infrastructure and a Medicare buy-in over 50 years of age. The Republican-lite Problem Solvers Caucus got some rule changes.
In short, Pelosi has showed, vote by vote, why she’s one of the best Democratic congressional leaders in history. Not bad in a week when we got another reminder of the same from watching her handle Donald Trump and his temper tantrums.
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