Rep. Linda Sánchez elected leader of Hispanic Caucus

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) on Tuesday elected Rep. Linda Sánchez to head the group in the next Congress.

Sánchez, a California Democrat entering her seventh term, will replace outgoing Chairman Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) atop the group, which has seen its membership and influence grow in recent years.


The position will give Sánchez a megaphone in a 2016 election cycle when the debate over immigration reform is sure to play an outsized role on Capitol Hill and beyond. President Obama this year is expected to act unilaterally to ease deportations involving immigrant families, and the likely backlash from Republicans sets up a partisan battle that's sure to spill over well into next year.

Sánchez is vowing to use the platform "to elevate" Hispanic issues, "including comprehensive immigration reform, voting rights, economic opportunity and education.”

Her relationship with the CHC has been a rocky one. In 2007, she quit the group over allegations that former Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.), who was chairman at the time, called her sister, Rep. Loretta Sánchez (D-Calif.), a "whore."

Linda Sánchez said she quit because "the current leadership has not made needed structural reforms to ensure that the caucus is more equitable and inclusive of all its members."

Her top deputies of the CHC, also elected Tuesday, will be Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) and Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.).

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), who is Hinojosa's top lieutenant in the current Congress, was tapped by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to head the party's campaign arm in the 114th.