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

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalOn The Money: Trump issues emergency order grounding Boeing 737 Max jets | Senate talks over emergency resolution collapse | Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks House Dems reintroduce the Dream Act MORE (D-Wash.) said Friday that she was “very disappointed” by Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeHarris receives endorsement from 6 home-state mayors Dems put spotlight on diversity in tech Hillicon Valley: T-Mobile, Sprint racked up Trump hotel bills | Progressives find fresh target in telecom merger | Lawmakers divided over state privacy rules | FCC warns of future probe into Sinclair allegations MORE’s loss to Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesBipartisan think tank to honor lawmakers who offer 'a positive tenor' GOP leader needles Dems on anti-Semitism resolution Dems under fire put brakes on Omar resolution 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 PocanTwo lawmakers just debated the merits of Nickelback on the House floor On The Money: Mnuchin urges Congress to raise debt limit 'as soon as possible' | NY officials subpoena Trump Org's longtime insurer | Dems offer bill to tax financial transactions Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez back 'end the forever war' pledge 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 AguilarLeft flexes muscle in immigration talks Immigration groups press for pairing Dreamer benefits with border security Lawmakers haggling over border dollars much lower than Trump's demand 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 SewellTo protect the vote, we must protect the courts Dems introduce bills to restore Voting Rights Act provision For a more perfect union, Restore the Voting Rights Act 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 PelosiHouse Dems unveil measure to reject anti-Israel boycotts Freshman Dems to meet with Obama next week The Hill's Morning Report - Trump's intraparty feuds divide Republicans 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