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CBC Will Gather to Discuss Whip Race

The Congressional Black Caucus will hold an emergency meeting Monday evening to discuss the Democratic leadership race between Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip James Clyburn, according to sources familiar with the CBC.

Clyburn and the Maryland Democrat are locked in a battle over who will become Minority Whip, the No. 2 job in the Democratic Caucus in the next Congress.

Clyburn, the only CBC member in leadership, regularly attends the group’s meetings, but it is unclear whether the South Carolina Democrat will be present Monday. His office did not immediately return requests for comment.

Some CBC members fear Clyburn may get squeezed out of the leadership ranks. Hoyer is far ahead in public endorsements, but Clyburn presumably tightened the race Tuesday after CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee released a statement saying the group had endorsed him for the No. 2 post.

“He has been an extremely effective consensus-building member of the Democratic Leadership who has brought together all corners of our caucus behind a unified agenda,” the California Democrat wrote. “With our country at a crossroads, it is vitally important that we have a leadership team in place that recognizes and reflects the strength and diversity of both the Democratic Caucus and our great nation. As we transition into the minority, it is even more important that Congressman Clyburn continue his role as whip.”

Several sources said the endorsement came from Lee and was not indicative that the entire caucus would vote for Clyburn. A CBC spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lee was an early Clyburn supporter, as was CBC Vice Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).

Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), another CBC member, has been making calls to moderates on Clyburn’s behalf and has been arguing that Hoyer should run against Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for Minority Leader instead, according to aides to moderate lawmakers.

A Democratic strategist with ties to the CBC said Wednesday that the group’s members “absolutely” were angry at Pelosi for staying on in the leadership, saying those members blamed her decision for sparking the Hoyer-Clyburn showdown. The strategist said some CBC members would probably support Hoyer, even though the group formally endorsed Clyburn on Tuesday.

“The CBC is not a monolithic group,” the strategist said, noting that CBC members “have personal relationships with different people.”

The strategist also said some CBC members were worried about the precedent that would be set if Clyburn ousted Hoyer, and that CBC members in particular should be concerned about upending the seniority-based system that traditionally governs Democratic leadership decisions. CBC members rely heavily upon the seniority system to advance through the Democratic ranks.

The strategist said CBC members want to develop a game plan for making sure that junior African-American lawmakers — such as Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) and Cleaver — are well-positioned to lay claim to spots on exclusive committees that are being vacated by departing Members. For example, spots on the Ways and Means Committee will be available because Reps. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) and Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) sought other offices this cycle and will not be returning to the House.

“Since a lot of people lost and there are a lot of openings … that’s the conversation they want to have, so they are prepared for that next step as far as who goes to committees,” the strategist said.

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