House Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress

House Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress
© Bonnie Cash

For Rep. Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarAOC v. Pelosi: Round 12? Maloney to lead Democrats' campaign arm House Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress MORE, the second time was the charm.

The California Democrat on Thursday won the race to become vice chair of the party's caucus in the next Congress, defeating Rep. Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyLawmakers emphasize prioritizing patients' needs in health care policy The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats ready mammoth relief bill for 10-day sprint Overnight Health Care: Biden officials announce funding to track virus variants | Senate Dems unveil public option proposal | White House: Teacher vaccinations not required for schools to reopen MORE (D-Ill.) for the No. 6 leadership slot in a 148 to 82 vote.

Aguilar, 41, will replace Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkPelosi says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear Sanders defends push to impeach Trump: Insurrection won't be tolerated MORE, a Massachusetts Democrat who had defeated Aguilar for the vice chair spot in 2018. Clark vacated the position to become assistant Speaker next year, a seat she won on Wednesday in a race against Rep. David CicillineDavid CicillineHouse passes sweeping protections for LGBTQ people The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - J&J A-OK, Tanden in Trouble Six ways to visualize a divided America MORE (D-R.I.).


Aguilar’s victory ensures that the Democrats’ leadership team in the 117th Congress will feature at least one member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), which had been a significant part of his pitch heading into the vote. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) had been the CHC’s prominent leadership figure for the last four years, both as head of the party’s campaign arm and most recently as assistant Speaker. He’s leaving the House next year after winning a seat in the Senate.

In the current Congress, Aguilar served as whip for the moderate New Democrat Coalition, a pro-business group that advocates for bipartisanship, and he also sits on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

As vice chair, he'll face the challenge of bridging the divide between party's centrist and liberal wings, which have been feuding after a lackluster performance for House Democrats at the polls this month.

In a statement issued after his victory, Aguilar acknowledged the importance of easing those tensions if Democrats are to be successful in pushing their ambitious legislative agenda.

"My top priority as a member of this leadership team will be to help unite our Caucus to meet the most pressing needs of the communities we represent, including providing much-needed resources to help the American people navigate the coronavirus crisis," he said.


Kelly, 64, was vying to be the third member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) featured on the Democrats’ leadership team in the 117th Congress, after Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.) and Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesHarris holds first meeting in ceremonial office with CBC members Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Congressional Black Caucus unveils '100 Day Plan' MORE (D-N.Y.) won reelection to those spots in voting conducted Wednesday. Both Clyburn and Jeffries ran unopposed.

In a year when Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisTo unite America, Biden administration must brace for hate Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm Grassley to vote against Tanden nomination MORE (D-Calif.) made history as the first Black woman elected vice president, Kelly had argued the importance of the Democrats’ House leadership team featuring a woman of color. Yet with two CBC members already on board — and no members of the CHC — that message became a tougher sell in a caucus that’s historically gone out of its way to promote ethnic diversity in its top ranks.

Democrats on Thursday also elected a quartet of members as the four equal co-chairs of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC): Reps. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellMichigan Democrat Dingell on violent rhetoric: 'I've had men in front of my house with assault weapons' Dingell 'very concerned' about lowering threshold for stimulus Existing technology can eliminate drunk driving MORE (Mich.), Ted LieuTed W. LieuPelosi, lawmakers denounce violence against Asian Americans Riot probe to likely focus on McCarthy-Trump call Progressives urge Biden pick for attorney general to prosecute Trump MORE (Calif.), Matt CartwrightMatthew (Matt) Alton CartwrightSix ways to visualize a divided America Will Biden continue NASA's Artemis program to return to the moon? House Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress MORE (Pa.) and Joe NeguseJoseph (Joe) NeguseOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Five things to know about Texas's strained electric grid | Biden honeymoon with green groups faces tests | Electric vehicles are poised to aid Biden in climate fight Democratic impeachment manager: Trump trial could have lasted years if witnesses were called Democrats warn of 'whataboutism' ahead of Trump defense MORE (Colo.).

This represented a change in structure from the last Congress, when Cicilline headed the DPCC and had three co-chairs under him, Dingell, Lieu and Cartwright. Cicilline’s unsuccessful bid for assistant Speaker created an opening for Neguse, who has served as one of two freshman liaisons to Pelosi’s leadership team and ran unopposed for the fourth DPCC seat.

In 2018, Neguse made history as the first Eritrean American elected to Congress and the first African-American congressman from Colorado.

The race for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair has been pushed to the week after Thanksgiving to give the candidates, Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.) and Tony Cárdenas (Calif.), more time to campaign and lock down votes.

— Updated at 12:00 p.m.