Winning over the votes of a last rebel group of House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday evening that she would agree to serve no more than four years as Speaker of the House, accepting a plan from younger lawmakers in her party which would limit senior House leadership to a maximum of eight years in those high profile positions.
"I am comfortable with the proposal and it is my intention to abide by it whether it passes or not," Pelosi said in a statement, as Democrats planned a vote by mid-February on the term limit plan.
Pelosi's agreement seems to pave the way for her to bring on board a final group of Democrats who had demanded an overhaul of their party's leadership in the House, which is dominated by lawmakers - like Pelosi - who are in their 70's.
"I firmly believe that the reforms we have advocated for will create advancement opportunities for the next generation of Democratic leaders and will strengthen our Caucus," said Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA).
"I have pushed for new leadership because I want to see generational change in the Democratic Caucus," said Rep. Earl Perlmutter (D-CO).
"We will support and vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House in the 116th Congress," a group including Perlmutter and six other Democratic holdouts said in a statement.
While Pelosi had easily won a vote of House Democrats after Thanksgiving to be the next Speaker, there were still questions about whether she could secure 218 votes on the floor of the House in January.
This agreement will seal the deal, as Pelosi said she would serve no more than four more years as Speaker.
Pelosi is the first House member to serve as Speaker - then see her party lose the minority, and return as Speaker - since Sam Rayburn did that in the mid-1950's.
While Republicans in the House had embraced term limits for committee chairs, the GOP had not applied those limits to the Speaker.
Pelosi had expressed confidence that she would be able to grind out enough votes to win a floor showdown as Speaker, but in the end, she decided to cut a deal to end any suspense.
"Over the summer, I made it clear that I see myself as a bridge to the next generation of leaders," Pelosi said in a statement, "a recognition of my continuing responsibility to mentor and advance new Members into positions of power and responsibility in the House Democratic Caucus."