Dem leader says party can include abortion opponents

Dem leader says party can include abortion opponents
© Greg Nash

The Democrats' tent is big enough to include anti-abortion lawmakers, the No. 2 House Democrat said Wednesday.

Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Lysol, disinfecting wipes and face masks mark coronavirus vote in House The Hill's 12:30 Report: House to vote on .2T stimulus after mad dash to Washington MORE (D-Md.) emphasized that Democrats are overwhelmingly in favor of women's right to terminate a pregnancy. But there's no litmus test, he said, that would exclude those lawmakers who feel otherwise.

"Absolutely, there's room in our party," Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol.

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"That doesn't mean we're not a pro-choice party — we are," he said, adding that this has been included in the Democratic platform.

"But that doesn't mean that ... either the Speaker or I believe that we ought to exclude people who have a different view," Hoyer said.

The comments came a day after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOvernight Energy: Court upholds Trump repeal of Obama fracking rule | Oil price drop threatens fracking boom | EPA eases rules on gasoline sales amid coronavirus Ocasio-Cortez blasts coronavirus stimulus package as 'shameful' on House floor Oil price drop threatens US fracking boom MORE (D-N.Y.) endorsed a liberal Democrat, Marie Newman, who's launched a primary challenge against Rep. Daniel LipinskiDaniel William LipinskiThe Hill's Campaign Report: Campaigns scale back amid coronavirus threat Dan Lipinski defeated in Illinois House primary Ocasio-Cortez announces slate of all-female congressional endorsements MORE (D-Ill.), an eight-term Catholic lawmaker with a long voting record opposing abortion rights.

"We can’t afford deep blue seats fighting against healthcare & equal rights," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Tuesday in endorsing Newman.

Lipinski is no stranger to such opposition. In last year's midterm cycle he faced a similar challenge from Newman, who won endorsements from a pair of Lipinski's Chicagoland colleagues: Reps. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyThe Memo: Virus crisis upends political world Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers seek 5G rivals to Huawei | Amazon, eBay grilled over online counterfeits | Judge tosses Gabbard lawsuit against Google | GOP senator introduces bill banning TikTok on government devices Lawmakers grill Amazon, eBay executives over online counterfeits MORE (D-Ill.) and Luis GutierrezLuis Vicente GutierrezThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic primary fight shifts to South Carolina, Nevada Democrats rally behind incumbents as Lipinski takes liberal fire Dem leader says party can include abortion opponents MORE (D-Ill.). This year, Newman is also being backed by several liberal presidential candidates, including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersCoronavirus makes the campaign season treacherous for Joe Biden Biden could be picking the next president: VP choice more important than ever Democrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden tops Trump by 9 points in Fox News poll Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Democratic Senators urge FTC to prevent coronavirus price gouging MORE (D-Mass.).

Lawmaker endorsements against sitting colleagues is exceptionally rare, and both Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMnuchin emerges as key asset in Trump's war against coronavirus Graham: Pelosi comment on Trump is 'most shameful, disgusting statement by any politician in modern history' The coronavirus pandemic versus the climate change emergency MORE (D-Calif.) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have adopted a policy of backing the party's incumbents without exception. 

Hoyer referenced comments from Pelosi, another Catholic, explaining why the party remains inclusive on the abortion issue, despite some liberal calls to make it a litmus test.  
 
"She said, 'You know, I have a lot of people in my family who disagree with me. You think I'm going to exclude them from my party?'" Hoyer relayed. "I thought that was a perfect answer, and one with which I agree. And I think our party agrees."

Lipinski was quick to fire back at Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday, saying her socialist-Democrat brand of politics — as reflected in Newman's policy platform — is simply too liberal for the voters of his district.

"The voters of Illinois' Third District do not want to be represented by a fifth member of the 'Squad,'" he said in a statement.

"The Democratic Party — and our country — cannot afford an obstructionist 'Tea Party of the Left' when we need to focus on winning this next election and passing policies that will truly help working families and all who are struggling in America today."

Hoyer, for his part, suggested the intra-party feuding is not helpful as Democrats seek to rally base voters and retain control of the House at the polls next year.

"We want to see the party as unified as possible," Hoyer said. "We think it's very important to keep the majority, obviously, not just because we want to be in the majority, but because the values that the parties reflect [are] very, very disparate — as disparate as I've seen it in my entire career."