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

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval House Democrat: Seattle airport's ban on ICE detainee flights helps 'hold a lawless administration accountable' MORE (D-Wash.) said Friday that she was “very disappointed” by Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeLee, Sanders introduce bill to tax Wall Street transactions Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds House Appropriations passes defense bill that would limit funds for border wall, pull US support from Yemen war MORE’s loss to Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds House Democrats press leaders to start Trump impeachment 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 PocanTrump-Pelosi fight threatens drug pricing talks Democrats seize on IRS memo in Trump tax battle The Memo: Trump allies see impeachment push backfiring on Democrats 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 AguilarPro-business Dem group sees boost in fundraising Left flexes muscle in immigration talks Immigration groups press for pairing Dreamer benefits with border security 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 SewellCongress: Support legislation to defend Medicare home health  House Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report Dems counter portrait of discord 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 uses Trump to her advantage Fake Pelosi video sparks fears for campaigns Trump goes scorched earth against impeachment talk 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