- 30 ноября 2018, 23:19
- POLITICO. Top Stories
Nancy Pelosi is refusing to entertain an end date on her leadership, even as more detractors have indicated they would support her speakership if she negotiates with them.
Pelosi is still short the votes to reclaim the speaker’s gavel in January but said the request many of her opponents are making — that she provide a clear timeline for when she’ll make way for a new crop of Democratic leaders — is unworkable.
“Between saying when I’m going to retire or not? … I don’t think so,” she told reporters Friday when asked if there was middle ground she could strike with her critics. “This will be resolved.”
She also criticized the group opposing her, made up primarily of men, for targeting her, given her gender: “I don’t think, by the way, they should be putting timelines on a woman speaker.”
Pelosi’s comments cap a whirlwind week of public posturing and private jockeying by both the longtime Democratic leader and her rebellious pack of detractors, with neither side willing to move publicly from their positions.
Pelosi overwhelmingly won her party's nomination for speaker on Wednesday with 203 votes, prompting many of her allies to say it’s time for the rebel group to end their dissent. But her critics say there’s still enough opposition to block her from becoming speaker, pointing to the 32 Democrats who voted against her on the secret ballot. They say they will keep opposing her unless she talks about when the next generation of leaders will come to power.
Pelosi and her two deputies, both of whom were unanimously reelected by the caucus earlier this week, have been in power for more than a dozen years, creating a bottleneck that has made it impossible for any other members to advance beyond the lower rungs of leadership.
Of those 32 “no” votes, around 20 have said they are planning to vote against Pelosi on the floor Jan. 3. Sixteen Democrats signed a letter saying as much earlier this month while a handful of other incoming freshmen and current members have made public statements to that effect. By contrast, 63 Democrats opposed her in the closed-door caucus meeting in 2016.
Pelosi needs to get 218 votes to grab back the gavel, meaning she can only afford to lose 17 Democrats and needs to peel off at least a handful of her detractors along the way.
But there is some movement behind the scenes as Pelosi looks to lock up the votes for speaker, with some of her critics signaling they’re open to some kind of deal. The anti-Pelosi pack huddled Thursday afternoon to talk strategy while some of Pelosi’s allies are privately reaching out to some of the group’s members to see if they’re willing to negotiate.
Rep. Tim Ryan, one of the ringleaders of a letter vowing to block Pelosi, said she couldn’t persuade him to change his mind.
“I can’t get anything. I don’t want anything. I don’t need anything. So I’m a ‘no,’” Ryan told reporters Friday.
But the Ohio Democrat, who challenged Pelosi in 2016, did seem to indicate that other members of his group may take a different tack in January.
“Everybody’s got to vote their conscience. Everyone’s got to vote their district, that’s the most important thing. And let the chips fall where they may,” he said.
Ryan was one of three anti-Pelosi members who took their case to the Democratic leader directly in a private meeting earlier this week. Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), two more outspoken Pelosi opponents, also attended the meeting. The trio floated the idea of backing Pelosi if she vows to relinquish power by a certain date.
But Pelosi shut down transition talk in the meeting, refusing to detail her exit strategy or even confirm whether she had one.
“They want her to lame duck herself,” complained one Pelosi ally after the meeting. Pelosi had previously talked broadly about the idea of a transition, particularly before the election, but has since mostly shut down conversation about the idea after Democrats won the majority earlier this month.
On Friday, some of Pelosi’s less vocal critics were planning another go at her: With Pelosi refusing to budge for Rice, Ryan and Moulton — three lawmakers who have tense relationships with the Californian — other members of the rebel group are hoping they can reach her in a friendlier way.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, for example, has a strong enough connection with Pelosi that he can call her privately in a way the others in the rebel group can’t. Some in the group are looking to the Colorado Democrat to try to convince Pelosi to commit to an exit plan — even if just privately.
“Ed is having conversations with Leader Pelosi, and will support her if an agreement can be reached on some sort of transition plan,” said Perlmutter’s spokeswoman Ashley Verville.
Rep. Bill Foster, one of the 16 Democrats who signed the letter, also wants to secure a transition commitment from Pelosi. He told a local news outlet Thursday he could support Pelosi with a “succession plan with a defined time frame.”
Later in the interview, Foster seemed to indicate even talk of a firm timeframe was open for compromise: "If a succession plan is on the table, then I think there's a lot of room to negotiate,” he told the Daily Herald.
And Foster isn’t the only member of the Pelosi opposition who may be looking for a solution before the Jan. 3 floor vote.
“If she comes up with a transition plan, she will clinch the nomination before January,” said a source close to the group.
Some in the group are very skeptical that Pelosi will agree to this, and with good reason. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) took a major political hit when he announced he would retire almost a year before his exit. Donors stopped giving, and some in the conference stopped listening to him, turning instead to make their cases to his heir apparent, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
Pelosi allies believe she would suffer a similar fate should she promise a transition. And as she readies to go up against Trump, a weak hand is the last thing she needs, they argue.
But the rebels’ unlikely request hasn’t stopped Pelosi from trying to work some of her opponents one by one, either through private meetings, emissaries reaching out via phone calls and on the House floor, offering political carrots or a combination of all three.
Pelosi has already peeled off two of her opponents — Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) — both of whom said they support her after she offered them legislative goodies. For Higgins, that meant a promise Democrats would look at infrastructure — already a top Democratic priority — and his Medicare enrollment bill in the next Congress. Fudge gave her support in exchange for being appointed chairwoman of an elections subcommittee in the new Congress.
And earlier this week, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), another letter signer, said he was “very close” to backing Pelosi after she promised to let him play a key role in efforts to enact an infrastructure bill and pension reform, two initiatives important to his district.
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine]]>