Progressive rep says she’s ‘very disappointed' by Barbara Lee’s loss in bid for Dem caucus chair

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalHouse punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate Democrats press OSHA official on issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA MORE (D-Wash.) said Friday that she was “very disappointed” by Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeHouse Democrats unveil measure to condemn police brutality Police killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick Barbara Lee: Congress should focus on eliminating poverty MORE’s loss to Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesGun control group rolls out House endorsements Pelosi: George Floyd death is 'a crime' Tara Reade's attorney asks Biden to authorize search of his Senate papers MORE (D-N.Y.) in the race to become Democratic Caucus Chair.

Jayapal cited Lee’s strong credibility among progressives, adding that the California congresswoman inspired her own run for public office.

“Fifteen or twenty years ago, I watched what she did on the Iraq War and I was an activist, actually — an anti-war activist— and I looked at her and thought, ‘you can have real values and be in Congress,’ so it was a big disappointment because of the credibility she has in the progressive community,” she told Hill.TV’s Buck Sexton and Juanita Tolliver on “Rising.”

Jayapal is poised to served alongside Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanHouse punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA Pelosi pulls vote on FISA bill after Trump veto threat MORE (D-Wis.) as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) in the 116th Congress.

The Washington lawmaker said CPC members will unite behind Jefferies, but hope to create a leadership role for Lee, saying a few members are already working towards finding her a position within the CDC.

“Obviously, we have a lot of work to do and I think we need to show that we understand the role that women of color played in our elections in winning the majority, so I hope we find a spot for Barbara Lee,” she told Hill.TV.

Lee on Wednesday narrowly lost her bid for Democratic Caucus Chair against Jeffries, who is seen as a rising star among House Democrats and potential future Speaker.

Despite Lee’s loss, the CPC increased their representation among the Democratic leadership ranks in the new Congress.

Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) defeated Rep. Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarDozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins Biden rise calms Democratic jitters MORE (D-Calif.) to become the vice chairwoman of the Democratic Caucus. The progressive Democrat will be the sixth-ranking Democrat in the leadership hierarchy next year.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-M.d.) beat Alabama Rep. Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellDemocratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super Tuesday Bill banning menthol in cigarettes divides Democrats, with some seeing racial bias Sanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements MORE for a leadership position reserved for junior members of the party.

But Jayapal hopes to expand the party’s leadership structure in the party to include even more progressives, a wish she has already made known to Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi calls Trump's decision to withdraw US from WHO 'an act of extraordinary senselessness' House Democrats unveil measure to condemn police brutality The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Khanna says President Trump threatening violence against US citizens; Trump terminating relationship with WHO MORE (D-Calif.), who overwhelmingly won the nomination to return as House Speaker.

“As speaker or leader, you can’t be holding that on you’re own so we went to her — Mark Pocan and I— and said, ‘look, we want to make sure that progressives have equal representation on the A committees — the exclusive committees' — those are the money committees, basically,” she said.

Despite a small group of detractors, the progressive said she thinks the majority of CDC members will support Pelosi’s bid to regain the Speaker’s gavel due to the lack of any opposition. 

“Technically…you could go back, you could see if somebody could get more votes than Nancy, but I don’t think we have a clear person who has emerged for that, so I think we will see Nancy Pelosi get elected Speaker of the House,” she said.

— Tess Bonn

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