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Jayapal not running for leadership, seeking to stay Progressive Caucus chair

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal announced in a new letter to her colleagues Friday that she will not enter the House Democratic leadership race and instead will run for reelection for her spot leading progressives in the chamber.

Jayapal’s decision demonstrates that a path is clearing for the lawmakers seeking the top jobs: Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, who currently serves as caucus chair and announced his run for leader Friday; Katherine Clark, who currently serves as assistant speaker and already announced her candidacy for Democratic whip; and Pete Aguilar, currently vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, who announced Friday his run for caucus chair.

Democrats are holding their leadership elections November 30.

“I am writing with humility, intentionality, and excitement to ask for your support to serve a second term as Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus,” Jayapal wrote.

As recently as Thursday, Jayapal neglected to reveal her future plans.

“I’ll have an announcement soon” Jayapal said Thursday when asked if she is planning to run for any of the top Democratic leadership jobs.

She told CNN as Democrats craft their new leadership slate she wants to make sure that “progressives are given their seat at the table.” She argued that progressives delivered in the 2022 midterms and with the agenda of the current Congress, and she wants to make sure “that is appreciated and front and center.”

Jayapal, the first South Asian American woman to serve in the House, helped progressives become a powerful force in Congress, leveraging their positions to negotiate directly with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had to navigate a narrow House majority, and President Joe Biden.

Jayapal was at the forefront of negotiations surrounding the American Rescue Plan and expanding the Child Tax Credit. She pushed to broadly expand the nation’s social safety net, but because negotiations fell apart between Biden and moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, progressives settled for a smaller but still sweeping health care, tax and climate bill known as the Inflation Reduction Act. Jayapal also led progressives to push the Biden administration on a number of executive actions as a way to curtail the narrow margins in Congress, including to address student loan debt relief.

“The CPC showed we could push for the maximum while also being able to land the plane, govern, and execute a deeply popular agenda,” Jayapal wrote.

With more than a dozen newly elected House members set to join the caucus, the progressive caucus is set to continue to be influential as Democrats navigate a narrow minority.

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