WASHINGTON – House Republicans voted Monday to lift the eight-year term limit for House speakers.
The vote came during the first meeting of House Republicans in the new 108th Congress.
The vote is to be submitted to the Rules Committee for floor passage as early as Tuesday.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert's term is not scheduled to expire for four more years, but House Republicans said they wanted to lift the term limit as a demonstration of their support for Hastert.
House Republicans placed the speakership under an eight-year term limit as part of a far-reaching package of reforms passed when they won control of the House in 1994. Those changes also placed committee chairmanships under six-year term limits.
Then-Speaker Newt Gingrich said these changes were necessary to end the concept of "imperial" leadership of the House.
Term limits for committee chairman will remain, although lifting the term limit on the speakership is being seen by some as a way of eventually lifting the term limits on chairmen.
Hastert was officially neutral on the issue, but supporters began lobbying for the change last year.
John Feehery, Hastert's spokesman, said he was "unsure" if abolishing the speaker's term-limit rule would undermine support for the term limits on committee chairmen.