Houlahan, Sherrill take leadership roles among freshman Dem moderates

Health care revamp, infrastructure and trade deals top New Democrat Coalition priorities

New Democratic Reps. Mikie Sherrill, center, and Chrissy Houlahan, right, will represent the freshman class in positions in the New Democrat Coalition. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Freshman Democratic Reps. Chrissy Houlahan and Mikie Sherrill have been assigned leadership roles in the New Democrat Coalition, Chairman Derek Kilmer of Washington told reporters Thursday.

More than 30 freshmen joined the group in the new Congress to bring its ranks to 92 members.

Houlahan, who represents Pennsylvania’s 6th District, will be the New Democrats’ freshman leader. Sherrill, from New Jersey, will serve as freshman whip.

“Because we have such a large freshman class, we wanted to have freshmen engaged and part of that leadership group,” Kilmer said. “They bring a really valuable perspective.”

Kilmer, who took over from Rep. Jim Himes as chairman of the New Dems, surveyed his coalition members last week about the policy issues that they wanted to prioritize.

Stabilizing health care markets and revamping the 2010 health care law, bills to rebuild U.S. infrastructure, and reining in the executive branch’s power to unilaterally affect overseas trade deals topped the list, Kilmer said.

“[There is] a huge appetite to fix and strengthen the Affordable Care Act,” Kilmer said. “Infrastructure — we had Speaker Pelosi in for lunch yesterday, and at one point I said, ‘How many of you ran on infrastructure?’ And every hand in the room went up.”

The New Democrat Coalition is the second-largest group in the Democratic caucus behind the House's Congressional Progressive Caucus, which has 98 voting members.

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