Pelosi: ‘Four years? No, I Don’t Think That’s a Lame Duck’

Speaker hopeful says she’s ‘comfortable’ with term limit deal, just didn’t want one-term cap

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tells reporters after her weekly news conference on Thursday that agreeing to limit her pending speakership to four years does not make her a lame duck. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn’t feel handicapped by the deal she cut Wednesday to limit her pending speakership to no more than two terms. 

“Four years? No, I don’t think that’s a lame duck, no,” the California Democrat said Thursday when asked if she felt she has made herself one by agreeing to the term limit.

Pelosi had previously refused to provide an end date on her tenure as Democratic leader for fear that she’d be weakening her negotiating stance. 

But on Wednesday she agreed to a three- to four-term limit for senior Democratic leadership proposed by Democrats who had been opposing her speaker bid in exchange for their support. She told reporters Thursday that she’s “comfortable” with it limiting her time with the gavel to four more years. (The four years Pelosi already served as speaker from 2007 through 2010 counts toward the limit.) 

“That’s a long time,” the 78-year-old said. “I was saying one term, was what I was saying. They were saying six months, to begin with. I feel very comfortable about what they are proposing. And I feel very responsible to do that, whether it passes or not.”

Asked if her assertion that she didn't want to limit herself to one more term as speaker meant she'd run for another in 2020, Pelosi declined to answer.  

“I’m going to be speaker,” she said. “I’m going to do what we do. And there are a lot more important things around here than what my intentions are as we go forward.”

If Pelosi should run for speaker again in 2020 (assuming Democrats retain the majority) she’ll need approval of two-thirds of the Democratic caucus, under the agreement she reached with her former opponents. She surpassed that threshold running unopposed during the caucus election this year, and also got two-thirds support when she had a challenger for minority leader in 2016.

The deal is expected to provide Pelosi enough votes to be elected speaker during a Jan. 3 floor vote, even though there are 15 Democrats who are still publicly opposing her. 

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