House Dems worry about lack of women of color in leadership

While House Democrats elected to its leadership ranks this week three females, two African-Americans, one Latino, one Asian-American and a member of the LGBT community, one category was missing: women of color.

Two black females, Reps. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeDemocrats need to get specific on defense cuts It's past time to be rid of the legacy of Jesse Helms Democrats introduce bill to repeal funding ban on abortions abroad MORE (D-Calif.) and Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellRevered civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis lies in state in the Capitol House approves Clyburn proposal to rename voting rights bill after John Lewis John Lewis carried across Edmund Pettus Bridge for last time MORE (D-Ala.), both lost their bids for leadership when Democrats huddled for closed-door elections Wednesday and Thursday.

It was an especially bitter pill to swallow for some members, given that the 2018 midterms ushered in the most diverse Congress in history - including a record-breaking number of women.

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“It was glaring to us that we didn’t have an African-American female, and yet, black women are the foundation of the party and carried the vote,” Rep. Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattySanders raised over 0,000 for candidates in Tuesday primaries The Hill's Campaign Report: Progressives raise expectations ahead of big primary night Left eyes huge night in NY, Kentucky primaries MORE (D-Ohio), who was just elected vice-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, told The Hill on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesTrump says no Post Office funding means Democrats 'can't have universal mail-in voting' Jeffries on Senate coronavirus bill: 'Totally irrelevant' Gohmert tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-N.Y.), a CBC member and young rising star in the Democratic party, just narrowly edged out Lee in the race for caucus chair. The loss was especially disappointing given that Lee, 72, also narrowly lost a bid for caucus vice-chair in 2016.

Meanwhile, Sewell was defeated by Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinCongress must enact a plan to keep government workers safe Five takeaways from Fauci's testimony GOP lawmakers comply with Pelosi's mask mandate for House floor MORE of Maryland in the contest for caucus representative - a spot reserved for a member who’s served five terms or fewer.

Other Democrats who won a seat at the leadership table this week include Rep. Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnMaxine Waters expresses confidence Biden will pick Black woman as VP Kanye West 'not denying' his campaign seeks to damage Biden Clyburn: 'No question' Kanye West effort is attempt to take votes from Biden MORE (S.C.), a senior CBC member who will serve as majority whip; Rep. Ben Ray-Luján (N.M.), a hispanic lawmaker who secured the assistant leadership post; Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosWin by QAnon believer creates new headaches for House GOP QAnon backer Marjorie Taylor Greene wins Georgia GOP runoff Rep. Steve Watkins loses Kansas primary after voter fraud charges MORE (Ill.), a female lawmaker who will lead the House Democratic campaign arm; and Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuDemocrats hammer Trump for entertaining false birther theory about Harris California Democrats back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineup GOP official says Elizabeth Warren 'endorses voter fraud' after joke about Bailey voting for Biden MORE (Calif.), an immigrant from Taiwan who nabbed one of the co-chair slots on the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSusan Collins asks postmaster general to address delays of 'critically needed mail' Trump says he'd sign bill funding USPS but won't seek changes to help mail voting On The Money: Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief agreement | Weekly jobless claims fall below 1 million for first time since March | Trump says no Post Office funding means Democrats 'can't have universal mail-in voting' MORE (D-Calif.), the first female Speaker of the House, was nominated by her caucus to retake the gavel ahead of the vote in January.

The House GOP, by comparison, elected just one female and no minorities to its leadership ranks.

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Still, many Democrats are disappointed not a single woman of color will fill a spot on their own leadership ladder.

Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson Lee: Harris has 'taken us to the mountaintop' in Martin Luther King Jr.'s sermon Democratic attorneys criticize House Judiciary Democrats' questioning of Barr Steyer endorses reparations bill, commits to working with Jackson Lee MORE (D-Texas) said the absence of women of color in the leadership ranks means Democrats need to redouble their efforts “to ensure that we have the fully balanced and responsive leadership that entails the faces of all of America.”

“Absolutely, I am concerned,” she said. “I’m delighted with the women; I’m delighted with the people of color; I’m delighted with the men; we have regional diversity, and I think that’s excellent. I applaud that. But we’ll also look to make sure that the face of America is reflected.”

However, not very many minority females ran for leadership positions in the first place.

Rep. Linda SanchezLinda Teresa SánchezDozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House Five things to watch for at this year's Oscars Klobuchar wins endorsement of prominent Hispanic lawmaker Linda Sanchez MORE (D-Calif.), former chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, dropped out of the race for caucus chair after her husband was charged with misusing federal funds. And Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeHonoring John Lewis's voting rights legacy Teacher-centric is good, but student-centric is better The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases MORE (D-Ohio), a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, opted not to challenge Pelosi.

“It’s a glaring deficiency, and something that we have to work on,” Rep. Hank JohnsonHenry (Hank) C. JohnsonFive takeaways as panel grills tech CEOs Lawmakers, public bid farewell to John Lewis Johnson presses Barr on reducing Roger Stone's recommended sentence MORE (D-Ga.), a Black Caucus member, told The Hill. “Sometimes when you get to these leadership elections, and you have a slew of people who are running, and you start picking, and you get to the end and you tally everything… you realize when you look at everyone’s picture that someone, a demographic, has been left out.”

After her loss, Lee told reporters a variety of factors, including ageism and sexism, likely factored into the results, adding that women of color have an even tougher time overcoming those barriers.

“That is something that women, especially women of color and African-American women, have to fight constantly each and every day,” Lee said. “We still have many glass ceilings to break.”

But a number of CBC women are in line to nab committee and subcommittee gavels in the majority, such as Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersMaxine Waters expresses confidence Biden will pick Black woman as VP Bill from Warren, Gillibrand and Waters would make Fed fight economic racial inequalities Waters rips Trump, GOP over mail-in ballots: 'They'll lie, cheat and steal to stay in power' MORE (D-Calif.), who is in line to lead the power Financial Services Committee, and Rep. Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonHouse members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Minority lawmakers gain unprecedented clout amid pandemic Americans must have confidence federal agencies are using the best available science to confront coronavirus MORE (D-Texas), who will take over the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

And Pelosi agreed to make Fudge the chairwoman of a defunct subcommittee on elections, which had been a top priority for the Black Caucus.

“Hopefully, with us being in the majority, there will be some positions. Sometimes, things are appointed that become bigger than some of the elected offices. I think you’ll see many of us looking for some chairmanships and other leadership roles,” Beatty said.

“I’m interested in a leadership role within our new majority process,” she added. “I’m African-American, I’m female and I’m talented. So lets see what happens.”

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Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.), a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, cautioned against judging the new leadership team based strictly on identity politics and whether each and every group is represented at the table. Leadership elections, she argued, are more nuanced than that, particularly since so much of a vote hinges on interpersonal relationships between individual members.

“It’s not fair to make a generalization, like, ‘Oh, because you’re a woman of color you’re going to support a woman of color. There’s other factors. In some cases, ideology … We have progressives supporting progressives, personal relationships,” she said.

Barragan said the key to getting more minority women in leadership is simple: bring more of them to Congress.

“The bottom line is we need more women of color in Congress to create more opportunities for them to be in leadership. That’s the bottom line.”

Bustos said that recruiting more women of color to run for office will be a top priority for her when she takes the reins at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

“That is very high on my list of things I want to accomplish over at the DCCC,” she told The Hill.

-Mike Lillis contributed