Statement by NOW President Toni Van Pelt:
WASHINGTON – The National Organization for Women (NOW) is proud to endorse Rep. Barbara Lee to be the next Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, the fifth-ranking position in leadership. If elected, Rep. Lee would be the first black woman to serve in House leadership—an historic step that is long overdue.
Congresswoman Lee is a unifier—she has spent her entire career bringing members together to advance effective policies. Working with Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, she created the Poverty and Income Inequality Task Force to tackle economic insecurity, and she helped write and pass the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) as well as every major HIV and AIDS legislation in recent years, building support among progressives, moderates, and conservatives.
We also know that she has the strength of character to stand up to Trump. Barbara Lee was the only member of Congress who stood up to the president when she voted against the use of force after the September 11 attacks. She was the only one who saw that attacking Iraq was an imprudent use of our military. We would have to look no further for a leader to stand against the ill-conceived militarization at our borders.
Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party and its most reliable supporters. The 2018 elections proved that people of color are continually and increasingly confronted with voter suppression efforts that denied voters fully free and fair elections. It’s not enough for Democrats to criticize voter suppression efforts and the political leaders behind them. Democrats must elect leaders that look like America, feel what voters feel, and understand the politics of exclusion from personal experience.
With a new roster of women lawmakers about to take up their positions, electing a second woman to serve with Nancy Pelosi will strengthen the Democratic caucus and send a powerful message to the country that women—particularly women of color—belong in leadership.
The next Congress will take up an unprecedented level of oversight and scrutiny towards Donald Trump’s dangerous agenda. This is why we need the best, most experienced and most talented lawmakers – and why Barbara Lee must join Nancy Pelosi in leading the most diverse Congress in history.
NOW Press, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-628-8669