Reps. Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., and Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, are waging a closely fought race for the ranking member slot on the Appropriations Committee.
Lowey asked for support Wednesday in a letter to colleagues, touting her past work as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairwoman and saying she is a good fit for the current atmosphere of partisan spending showdowns.
“I have a record of working across the broad spectrum of our Caucus to build consensus on challenging issues, including many that Republicans often inappropriately add to appropriations bills,” Lowey wrote.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has loomed large over the race. Kaptur is more senior than Lowey on the committee but has a history of clashes with the top Democrat in the House.
In 2010, Kaptur and Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., urged Pelosi to postpone leadership elections after Pelosi surprised Democrats with her intentions to stay on as leader.
However, Kaptur met Tuesday with Pelosi for 30 minutes, and Pelosi expressed that she was neutral in the race, said Steve Fought, Kaptur’s communications director.
Lowey’s camp is expressing optimism about the New York lawmaker’s standing in the race, while Fought described the contest as “up for grabs.”
Kaptur first told colleagues of her intention to run for the spot in March after outgoing ranking member Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., announced his retirement.
In a Nov. 16 letter, Kaptur defended her role in the passage of President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul as it relates to abortion. Then, she fought to prevent the law from providing government funding for abortions.
“I am aware of distortions of my positions on women’s health issues and abortion, some of them stemming” from that episode, Kaptur wrote to her colleagues. “I support Roe v. Wade unconditionally,” she said, adding that “In my position as Ranking Member, I will stand against the Republicans in their attempts to needlessly inject abortion policy riders into the Committee’s work.”
The date of the elections for ranking members will be decided after the caucus leadership elections Thursday.