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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 HoyerDemocrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Hoyer on Trump election challenges: 'I think this borders on treason' Capitol's COVID-19 spike could be bad Thanksgiving preview 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-CortezTrump tweets Thanksgiving criticism of NFL QBs for kneeling Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-N.Y.) endorsed a liberal Democrat, Marie Newman, who's launched a primary challenge against Rep. Daniel LipinskiDaniel William LipinskiHouse votes to condemn alleged hysterectomies on migrant women Five things we learned from this year's primaries Hispanic Caucus campaign arm endorses slate of non-Hispanic candidates 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 SchakowskyFeinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Pelosi, Mnuchin continue COVID-19 talks amid dwindling odds for deal Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair 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 SandersThe Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Prepare for buyers' remorse when Biden/Harris nationalize health care MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Disney laying off 32,000 workers as coronavirus batters theme parks Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE (D-Mass.).

Lawmaker endorsements against sitting colleagues is exceptionally rare, and both Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation 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."