While Democrats now have more leverage than at any point yet in the Trump administration, Pelosi’s ascension comes with risks. Some House Democrats worried term limits could damage her negotiating power.
She downplayed potential problems this week. In a statement Wednesday, Pelosi said she “made it clear” over that summer that she sees herself “as a bridge to the next generation of leaders.”
“That’s a long time,” she then said Thursday about the potential for four years as speaker.
Pelosi also has to work through an array of viewpoints in her caucus. Even as centrist Democrats won numerous red-leaning districts in November to propel the party to a House majority, a group of young, liberal candidates won in blue districts to jolt the party’s left wing.
The resistance to Pelosi’s leadership came from the center rather than the left. Still, she has taken care to appease both groups.
While also pushing for her own goals to address climate change, Pelosi met the demands of Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and environmental activists in pledging to restart a select committee on the issue. Aside from the term limit deal, Pelosi also struck an agreement with some of the more moderate House Democrats to make rules changes designed to encourage bipartisan lawmaking.
The deal helped her to get more lawmakers behind her bid for speaker. She earned the Democratic nomination to become speaker by a 203-32 margin last month, but she still needs to secure the post in a House floor vote in January.
Balancing the varied concerns within the Democratic caucus could prove critical to Pelosi’s second stint as speaker lasting more than two years. How she and her party handle opposing Trump will also help to determine whether a Democrat can win the White House in 2020.
For now, Pelosi and Democratic leaders appear likely to exercise caution on calls to impeach Trump. They worry an aggressive approach could alienate the moderate and independent voters they will need in two years. Of course, their calculus could change depending on what Mueller reveals in his ongoing Russia investigation.
Regardless, the House Democratic leader made it clear this week that she would not shy from jabbing Trump when she finds it appropriate. After she publicly ribbed the president on Tuesday, she dug in later with private comments to House Democrats.
“It’s like a manhood thing for him,” she said, according to an aide in the room. “As if manhood could ever be associated with him. This wall thing.”
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