Linda Sánchez: It’s Time for New House Dem Leaders

Caucus vice chairwoman wants leaders to make room at the top

California Rep. Linda T. Sánchez became the highest ranking Democrat to suggest the party’s top three lieutenants leave their posts next Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairwoman Linda T. Sánchez is ready to move up in the ranks, and she’s not afraid to say so on television. 

On Thursday, the California Democrat called on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer and Assistant Minority Leader James E. Clyburn to leave their posts after the 2018 election and make way for up-and-coming lawmakers, like herself, to have a chance at the top.

“I do think it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders, and I want to be part of that transition,” Sánchez told C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.” “They are all of the same generation, and, again, their contributions to the Congress and the caucus are substantial. But I think there comes a time when you need to pass that torch. And I think it’s time.”

Sánchez became the highest ranking House Democrat to publicly call on the top three leaders to leave their decades-long posts.

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Drew Hammill, an aide to Pelosi, lauded the minority leader’s work and said Democrats need to keep a keen focus on winning back the majority.

“Leader Pelosi enjoys wide support in the caucus and has always said she is not in Congress on a shift but on a mission,” Hammill said. “Leader Pelosi is focused on winning back the House and anything else is a distraction from our path to the majority.”

Sánchez is ranked fifth in the caucus. 

She was elected to that post by her Democratic congressional colleagues in November — and won by two votes against another California Democrat, Rep. Barbara Lee.

After losing control of the chamber for the fourth straight election in 2016, House Democrats were divided over whether Pelosi should keep her job as the top Democrat in Congress. 

Pelosi’s challenger for minority leader, Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, garnered one-third of the vote — a far wider margin than previous challengers had gotten. 

House Democrats and Republicans choose their respective party leaders by casting secret ballots before the start of a new Congress every two years.

Hoyer, in a statement, called Sánchez “outstanding” at her job.

“I agree with her that we have talented leaders throughout our caucus,” Hoyer said in a statement. “I remain laser-focused on taking back the House, a goal all House Democrats share and are working tirelessly toward.”

Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley, who is fourth-in-line in House Democratic leadership, said in a statement that despite Sánchez’s comments, the party is united behind the leadership team.

A spokesman for Clyburn did not return a request for comment. A spokesman for Sánchez did not return a request for comment about why Sánchez chose to share her sentiments now.

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