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Progressives hammer DCCC over blacklist targeting primary challenges

Several Democratic lawmakers criticized a new policy announced by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to blacklist any consulting firms that choose to work with Democrats attempting to defeat sitting members of the party in primary elections.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSanders: Netanyahu has cultivated 'racist nationalism' Meghan McCain: Greene 'behaving like an animal' Deleted video shows Greene taunting Ocasio-Cortez's office in 2019 MORE (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyDems offer bill to help single-parent families get expanded child tax credit Warren says she'll run for reelection to Senate Bush testifies before Congress about racist treatment Black birthing people face during childbirth, pregnancy MORE (D-Mass.), two prominent House Democratic freshmen who beat incumbent Democrats, took aim at the policy announced by Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosDemocrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Democrat Cheri Bustos to retire from Congress GOP campaign chief confident his party will win back House MORE (D-Ill.) in tweets accusing the DCCC of trying to stifle the flow of new members into the party.

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In 2018, Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley beat former Reps. Joe CrowleyJoseph (Joe) CrowleyLiberal advocacy group stirs debate, discomfort with primary challenges NY Democratic chair blasts primary challenge against Maloney Carolyn Maloney will face Justice Democrats-backed primary challenger MORE (D-N.Y.) and Michael CapuanoMichael (Mike) Everett CapuanoBottom line Hillicon Valley: Election officials prepare for new Russian interference battle | 'Markeyverse' of online fans helps take down a Kennedy | GOP senators unveil bill to update tech liability protections 'Markeyverse' of online fans helps take down a Kennedy MORE (D-Mass.), respectively.

Ocasio-Cortez called for a halt to small-dollar donations to the DCCC until the policy was lifted.

"The @DCCC’s new rule to blacklist+boycott anyone who does business w/ primary challengers is extremely divisive & harmful to the party," Ocasio-Cortez wrote Saturday. "My recommendation, if you’re a small-dollar donor: pause your donations to DCCC & give directly to swing candidates instead."

Pressley said the policy would disproportionately hurt women and people of color.

"If the DCCC enacts this policy to blacklist vendors who work with challengers, we risk undermining an entire universe of potential candidates and vendors - especially women and people of color - whose ideas, energy, and innovation need a place in our party," Pressley wrote in a lengthy thread about the issue.

"[W]e cannot credibly lay claim to prioritizing diversity & inclusion when institutions like the DCCC implement policies that threaten to silence new voices and historically marginalized communities," she added.

Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaSenate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech GOP downplays Jan. 6 violence: Like a 'normal tourist visit' House conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill MORE (D-Calif.) called the policy "tone-deaf" in comments to The Intercept, while adding that he along with Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanProgressives divided over efforts to repeal SALT cap Left feels empowered after Biden backtracks on refugees NIH reverses Trump administration's ban on fetal tissue research MORE (D-Wis.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalBiden spending plans hit speed bumps Overnight Health Care: CDC approves Pfizer vaccine for adolescents aged 12-15 | House moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill | Panel blasts COVID-19 response House moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill MORE (D-Wash.) had spoken with Bustos this week to indicate their firm opposition to the policy.

“Pramila Jayapal, Mark Pocan, and I met with Cheri Bustos to make it clear that we strongly oppose her new policy that stifles competition and blackballs any consultant who works for a challenger," Khanna told The Intercept.

"This unprecedented grab of power is a slap in the face of Democratic voters across the nation. It’s something even Rahm Emanuel would not have done and is totally tone-deaf to the grassroots activists across our nation," he added. 

"Voters are sick of the status quo holding on to power and stifling new voices. They are sick of D.C. politicians who care more about holding on to power than a true competition of ideas."

In a statement to The Hill, a DCCC spokesman said that the policy was aimed at protecting all members of the caucus from any types of challenges.

“When Chairwoman Bustos was running to lead the DCCC, she stood up in front of her colleagues and made a promise to stand with and protect every Member of the most diverse caucus in Congressional history as we work to defend and grow our Democratic majority," Cole Leiter told The Hill.

"This transparent policy follows through on that exact promise and will protect all Members of the Democratic Caucus - regardless of where they fall within our big tent," Leiter added.

Democratic House majority whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) also defended the policy in an interview with National Journal, asserting that it was "wrong" for the DCCC to give any money to firms that would work with candidates who would challenge Democrats in primaries.

“An African-American got in the race against him running to his right and then he looked up and there was this Democratic pollster working for his opponent,” Clyburn said, referencing a past primary against Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonLawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats Lawmakers reach agreement on bipartisan Jan. 6 commission House lawmakers roll out bill to invest 0 million in state and local cybersecurity MORE (D-Miss.). “He’s paying dues to the DCCC who’s giving a contract to that person and then that person ended up working for that opponent. There’s something wrong with that.”