Rep. Diana DeGette drops bid for majority whip

The Denver congresswoman cited pressure “to return the three senior leaders to their posts” as part of her decision.

Diana DeGette meets with Araceli Velasquez, her family and supporters at Park Hill United Methodist Church and Temple Micah, where she's lived in sanctuary to avoid deportation for nearly 10 months. May 29, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Diana DeGette meets with Araceli Velasquez, her family and supporters at Park Hill United Methodist Church and Temple Micah, where she's lived in sanctuary to avoid deportation for nearly 10 months. May 29, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette on Monday said she is withdrawing her bid for the third-highest leadership position in the U.S. House.

DeGette, who has represented Denver since being elected in 1996, said in a release Monday she was ending her bid for House majority whip less than two weeks after she said she would be seeking the role. She faced a strong challenge by former Democratic Whip U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, who is now expected to reclaim the position.

The House majority whip’s job is to count votes and convince a majority of Democrats and Republicans to vote for a bill, according to Vox.

Emboldened by Democrats flipping the House after the Nov. 6 election, DeGette said the new-look House brought exciting opportunities for change. She cited the importance women played in the election and the resulting record-number of women slated to serve in this upcoming Congress as one of the reasons she had planned to run for the No. 3 position.

“Since my announcement, I have been heartened by the backing I have received across the caucus,” DeGette said in the statement. “Over the last few days, however, many of my supporters have expressed concern about pressure they are receiving to return the three senior leaders to their posts without opposition.”

“We have enough work to do without this internal pressure,” DeGette added in the statement. “Therefore, I am withdrawing my bid for Whip at this time.  I look forward to continuing as chief deputy whip with this exciting new majority. We have a lot to do, and I am eager to get started.”

DeGette has served as chief deputy whip for seven terms. She’s expecting to be selected chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, a powerful subcommittee whose oversight authority includes subpoena power. The subcommittee is expected to weigh in on issues including drug prices, conduct of EPA officials and actions by the Trump administration, which Monday’s release said includes the separation of young immigrant children from their parents.

Though U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi is facing no challengers in her bid to reclaim the speaker of the house role, there have been some Democrats who are seeking a change. Two members of Colorado’s congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter and U.S. Rep.-elect Jason Crow, have said they won’t be supporting her bid. Fellow Democrat U.S. Rep.-elect Joe Neguse said Sunday he will support Pelosi’s bid.

U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland is expected to be named House Majority Leader, the No. 2 leadership position.

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