Black Caucus head won't commit in Dems' leadership race

Black Caucus head won't commit in Dems' leadership race
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The head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on Tuesday declined to endorse a candidate ahead of Wednesday's House Democratic leadership contest between Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio).
 
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Rep. G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump's new controversy Two former Congressional Black Caucus chairmen back Biden House Democrats blur lines on support for impeachment MORE (D-N.C.), emerging from an hourslong closed-door meeting of the CBC in the Capitol, said he's "not authorized to make a statement at all."
 
"If I could I would," Butterfield said. "I'll get in trouble if I make a statement."
 
The remarks are a steep departure from Butterfield's comments earlier in the month, when the CBC chairman offered a strong endorsement of Pelosi.
 
"I'm going to vote for Nancy Pelosi, that's for sure," Butterfield said at the time. "I think she's been a great leader, and I'm going to continue to support her. But if someone wants to run against her, it would not offend me, because that's the way a caucus operates."
 
Days later, Ryan launched his long-shot challenge, which hinges largely on the notion that Pelosi's leadership strategy has failed to return control of the House to Democrats since the 2010 Tea Party wave. Ryan and his supporters say the Democrats need a shakeup at the very top to bring younger faces and new ideas into the leadership fold.
 
In response, Pelosi offered a set of reforms designed to empower junior members. But the proposals have infuriated some members of the CBC, who fear the changes would erode the authority of CBC members within the caucus. They've pointed to one proposal in particular that would set aside the assistant leader position, currently held by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), a CBC member, for younger members.
 
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) penned a letter to his CBC colleagues before Thanksgiving warning against that change. And some members of the group emerged from Tuesday's long meeting echoing those concerns.
 
"We're very concerned that in anything we do we don't minimize the CBC's influence in Congress," said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). "That goes from looking at any potential rules change and it's impact; that goes to seeing whether or not the number of African-Americans in leadership is commiserate with our numbers as a caucus." 
 
Thompson said "there's a need for clarity on all" of Pelosi's proposed reforms, and he suggested there are separate changes that have been excluded altogether. Richmond and other CBC members, for instance, are pushing Pelosi to make the head of the party's campaign arm an elected position, rather than an appointment dictated from the top.
 
"I think what's missing is the fact that, as a caucus, there has to be a broader vehicle for input," Thompson said. "And the feeling among a lot of people is that the input vehicle is too narrow."
 
Butterfield said the group would reveal its path forward on Wednesday morning in the Democrats' caucus meeting.
 
"We will be taking a position at the caucus meeting," he said.