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One of Majority Whip James Clyburn’s most ardent supporters in his divisive battle for the No. 2 spot in Democratic leadership next year is reserving judgment on a deal announced late Friday that would keep the South Carolina lawmaker in his current third-ranking slot.
Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee said in an e-mailed statement Saturday night that the CBC would wait to discuss the deal at a special meeting Monday night before formally weighing in.
“While our preliminary evaluation of Speaker Pelosi’s proposal has been positive among our members, we will not make a final evaluation until the full membership of the CBC meets on Monday evening,” the California Democrat said. “At that time, we will fully discuss this proposal with the benefit and input of all of our members.”
Clyburn and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) have been competing to serve as Minority Whip next year when Democrats will be in the minority. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who is running for Minority Leader, said in a letter to her Democratic colleagues Saturday that she would nominate Clyburn at Wednesday’s leadership election to a newly created position of Assistant Leader, which would preserve his spot in the pecking order between Hoyer and Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.)
The CBC formally endorsed Clyburn for Minority Whip last week. Lee and several other CBC members had made the case that Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, needs to keep a seat at the leadership table, preferably as Whip.
Lee noted in her statement that the new post “would also maintain Congressman Clyburn’s position as the third ranking Member in the Democratic Leadership.”
An aide to another CBC member said members of the group were pleased not to have a drawn-out fight between Hoyer and Clyburn.