Horsford to chair Congressional Black Caucus; Lee gets Dems to add new ‘Battleground’ post

By: - December 1, 2022 1:03 pm

Nevada Democratic Reps. Steven Horsford and Susie Lee at a rally featuring Barack Obama in North Las Vegas Nov. 1, 2022. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford was elected to serve as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, which advocates for policy priorities important to the Black community, while U.S. Rep Susie Lee is among moderate Democrats pushing to create a leadership position focusing on perpetually vulnerable Democratic members serving in congressional swing districts.

Horsford, who recently won his fourth term representing the 4th Congressional District, is the 28th chair of the group. Since it formed in 1971, the caucus has pushed for a variety of reforms ranging from policing to voting rights.

“Over the last 50 years, the CBC has served as the ‘conscience of the Congress,’ helping guide the legislative priorities that have shaped our nation and helped improve the lives of African Americans and all our constituents,” Horsford said in a statement. “As Chair, I will provide the leadership, strategic vision and execute on our plans to guide us on a path that will deliver positive socioeconomic outcomes for the communities and constituencies we serve.”

His two-year term as the caucus’s chair begins in 2023 when Republicans regain control of the House.

Horsford’s announcement came the same week U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York became the first Black lawmaker chosen by his colleagues to lead the House Democratic Caucus. Jeffries will replace longtime House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California as the Democratic leader when the new Congress convenes next year.

Lee, who was narrowly re-elected to her third term representing the 3rd Congressional District, proposed creating a leadership position to represent lawmakers in battleground districts. That proposal was adopted by House Democrats this week.

Lee has served since 2018 and at the time was among a handful of Democratic lawmakers who were elected in districts won by former President Donald Trump in 2016.

President Joe Biden narrowly won CD3 in 2020. Though lawmakers shifted more Democrats into the area during the redistricting process, CD3 is still viewed as highly competitive, as it has been ever since it was created after the 2000 census.

In a letter submitted Wednesday, Lee and other lawmakers proposed establishing a Battleground Leadership Representative to the Democratic Leadership.

“We know that what we see on the ground in battleground districts represents not an outlier but instead a harbinger of what is to come for future election cycles and messaging nationwide,” the group wrote. “The future of our Caucus depends on ensuring that those responsible for winning, defending, and expanding our majority each cycle have an advocate who consistently provides Caucus Leadership with perspectives informed by the challenges and realities each of us face in our districts.”

The group is also recommending U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia for the leadership position.

Another backer of the proposal is U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, who chairs the Problem Solvers Caucus, a group that formed in 2017 that includes Republicans and Democrats. Both Lee and Horsford are members of the group.

Gottheimer, along with Lee and Spanberger, another member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, were among a group of ten lawmakers that urged the House to pass a bipartisan infrastructure package while a separate bill that proposed massive investments into social services and climate change, which many lawmakers deemed “human infrastructure,” was still being negotiated.

Gottheimer later led a group of nine centrist Democrats who threatened to vote against the 2022 budget resolution if the House didn’t immediately pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Lee did not sign on to this effort.

Many progressive lawmakers warned both packages needed to be tethered to ensure both bills passed.

While the infrastructure bill was passed and signed into law in November 2021, the Build Back Better Act, which proposed nearly $2 trillion of investments in expanding social services, died shortly afterward when U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, another centrist Democrat and one of the key negotiators for the infrastructure law, announced he wouldn’t support the bill.

The original version of this story incorrectly characterized the leadership change proposed by Lee.

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Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues.