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 HoyerOvernight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 House to vote next week on sweeping bill to lower drug prices Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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-CortezOcasio-Cortez on food assistance cuts: 'If this happened then, we might've just starved' Youth climate activists grade top 2020 Democrats on Green New Deal commitment Sanders to join youth climate strikers in Iowa MORE (D-N.Y.) endorsed a liberal Democrat, Marie Newman, who's launched a primary challenge against Rep. Daniel LipinskiDaniel William LipinskiDemocratic group to only endorse attorney general candidates who back abortion rights Democrats unveil impeachment procedures The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges 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 Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment of Trump resumes Warren receives endorsement from Illinois congresswoman ahead of Chicago rally Overnight Health Care: Trump draws ire after retreat on drug price promise | Harris unveils mental health plan | Dem bill targets violence against women around the world MORE (D-Ill.) and Luis GutierrezLuis Vicente GutierrezDemocrats rally behind incumbents as Lipinski takes liberal fire Dem leader says party can include abortion opponents DHS to make migrants wait in Mexico while asylum claims processed MORE (D-Ill.). This year, Newman is also being backed by several liberal presidential candidates, including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Castro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Buttigieg draws fresh scrutiny, attacks in sprint to Iowa MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Castro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Buttigieg: Harris 'deserves to be under anybody's consideration' for vice president MORE (D-Mass.).

Lawmaker endorsements against sitting colleagues is exceptionally rare, and both Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments Bloomberg: Trump should be impeached On The Money: Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown | Trump asks Supreme Court to shield financial records from House Democrats | House passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading 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."