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

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalWomen's March plans 'Medicare for All' day of lobbying in DC MoveOn leaders stepping down before 2020 election Blue states buck Trump to expand health coverage MORE (D-Wash.) said Friday that she was “very disappointed” by Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeDemocrats vow to lift ban on federal funds for abortions Live coverage: House elects new Speaker as Dems take charge Ocasio-Cortez eyeing Jeffries as 2020 target: report MORE’s loss to Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesBlack Caucus sees power grow with new Democratic majority New Dem caucus chairman: Some wall is good, but not new wall Jeffries drops Naughty by Nature reference in nominating Pelosi 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 PocanDems offer measure to raise minimum wage to per hour House Dems to introduce minimum wage bill Congress poised to push back at Trump on Saudi Arabia, Syria 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 AguilarDem added to Ways and Means Committee amid desire for more Hispanic members Dreamers-for-wall trade going nowhere in House DeGette dropped from chief deputy whip spot 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 SewellFormer staffer accuses Jackson Lee of retaliation after rape claim Dems offer measure to raise minimum wage to per hour DeGette dropped from chief deputy whip spot 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 Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' 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