House

DeGette dropped from chief deputy whip spot

Keren Carrion

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) has been dropped as a chief deputy whip — a position she’s held the past 14 years — after briefly challenging Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) to become the third-ranking Democrat in the next Congress.

“This was not by her choice,” DeGette spokesman Matt Inzeo said Thursday.

Clyburn’s office declined to comment beyond the statement naming the whip team.

The chief deputy whip spots are chosen at the discretion of the Democratic whip — a position Clyburn held between 2007 and 2011, and will assume again next year when Democrats take over the majority.

{mosads}On Thursday, he announced two senior chief deputy whips in the next Congress — Reps. John Lewis (Ga.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) — and eight additional chief deputy whips: Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), Peter Welch (Vt.), Terri Sewell (Ala.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Dan Kildee (Mich.), Pete Aguilar (Calif.) and Henry Cuellar (Texas).

Of those 10 lawmakers, Jackson Lee, Kildee, Aguilar and Cuellar will be new arrivals to the chief deputy whip spot, while the others are already in those positions under the current whip, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

Clyburn also tapped Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the outgoing chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and a close Clyburn ally, to become assistant to the majority whip — a newly created position.

“In my campaign for Majority Whip, I promised to involve every segment of our Caucus and empower the next generation of leaders as integral parts of the Whip team,” Clyburn said in a statement.

“As we fill out the rest of the Whip team in the coming days and weeks we will seek input from across the Caucus, including many of the Caucus’s younger members and our historic incoming freshman class to ensure their voices are heard,” Clyburn said.

Two sitting chief deputy whips will not be returning to those seats next year: DeGette and Rep. Joaquin Castro (Texas).

The absence of DeGette is notable, as she has been in that spot for the past seven Congresses, and it comes following her decision to challenge Clyburn for the whip position. That contest was embroiled in controversy, since Clyburn — the only African-American lawmaker in the top tier of leadership — was also the only senior leader to get a challenge.

DeGette’s move infuriated Clyburn and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), who expressed concerns that their influence in the caucus would be diluted, despite the significant contribution of black voters in shifting control of the House to the Democrats in last month’s midterms.

Richmond last month characterized her challenge as “offensive and insulting.”

DeGette rejected those criticisms, saying she simply wanted to take her long history as a senior member of the whip team to the next level.

“I’ve always loved whipping,” she said at the time. “I’ve been known to whip a dinner party.”

Still, more than a week before the Democrats’ closed-door leadership elections last month, DeGette dropped out of the race, citing the “internal pressure” facing her supporters to keep the leadership team of Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Hoyer and Clyburn intact in the 116th Congress.

“We have enough work to do without this internal pressure,” she said.

But the decision did not help her retain her spot on the Democrats’ whip team next year.

Tags Cedric Richmond Congressional Black Caucus Dan Kildee Debbie Wasserman Schultz Diana DeGette G.K. Butterfield Jan Schakowsky Joaquin Castro John Lewis Nancy Pelosi Pete Aguilar Peter Welch Sheila Jackson Lee Steny Hoyer Terri Sewell
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