After toying with the idea of running for chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee instead opted Wednesday to support Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. The Missouri Democrat was then unanimously approved for the post, according to a source familiar with the vote.
“For those of us who care about the most vulnerable in our country, we have some difficult and contentious days ahead,” Jackson Lee said in a statement. “Therefore, in the spirit of unity, in order to move the CBC forward, and to protect the changes that we have enacted, today I was pleased to move that Emanuel Cleaver be elected by acclamation for the CBC Chair for the 112th Congress, and I was glad to give him my support.”
The Texas Democrat did say that she looks forward to serving as chairwoman in the future.
The decision to unanimously install Cleaver as the successor to Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) follows several days of tumult within the caucus. The CBC had concerns about the role of Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) in the House Democratic leadership in the 112th Congress, but it united behind his Assistant Leader role Wednesday.
Cleaver informed Members in September that he planned to run for chairman of the group.
“I have friends on the other side with whom I work, and I don’t know of a strained relationship I have with anybody out of the 435,” the third-term lawmaker said in an interview this month. “I get along well with everybody, and I think that’s going to be necessary for the new CBC chair, no matter who that is. What we don’t need is a bomb-thrower.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.