Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a leader of a group of Democratic rebels trying to push Pelosi out of House leadership, had flown back to Washington to negotiate with her face-to-face. Pelosi had already flipped several critics and shown momentum in her bid to reclaim the gavel. Perlmutter’s group was under siege from Pelosi allies both in and outside the Capitol.
But Pelosi still didn’t have the votes to become speaker. And she was ready to make a dramatic overture to lock down support. During the meeting in her office on the second floor of the Capitol, Pelosi told Perlmutter she was open to term limits on her leadership.
It was the first time Pelosi had expressed a willingness to accept an end-date on her power after 16 years atop the Democratic Caucus. It proved to be the decisive moment in Pelosi’s weeks-long slog to ensure she would be the first lawmaker since the legendary Sam Rayburn in the 1950s to win the speaker’s gavel a second time.