Jayapal sidesteps questions about leadership bids for herself, Pelosi

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on Sunday sidestepped questions about potential leadership bids for herself and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as Democrats prepare for leadership elections later this month.

Asked during a press conference on Sunday if she and the Congressional Progressive Caucus would support Pelosi should she run for leadership again this year, Jayapal — alongside nearly a dozen incoming members of the caucus — declined to give a definitive answer.

“We always consider all people who are running very carefully and we usually have a set of things that we ask for as the Progressive Caucus as part of those negotiations, and we’re looking forward to seeing them,” she said.

Pressed on if she will be running for leadership herself, Jayapal deflected, telling reporters “I am so basking in the power of progressive wins … and delivering Georgia and continuing to get more progressive wins.”

Jayapal held a press conference on Sunday at the AFL-CIO building in Washington, D.C., with 10 incoming members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who won their elections this week. Progressive Caucus Whip Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) were also present.

While progressives are celebrating their wins — Jayapal said 15 of the caucus’s 18 endorsed candidates won their races — the balance of power in the House remains unknown.

Republicans are currently projected to win 212 seats and Democrats 204, with a number of races too close to call. Democrats still have a narrow path to win the 218 seats needed for a majority.

Despite the majority hanging in the balance, Democrats are forging ahead with preparations for the next Congress. The caucus is scheduled to convene on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 for leadership elections.

One big question is whether Pelosi — who has led the Democratic caucus as Speaker for a combined eight years — will step down from her post, resign from Congress altogether, or make another bid for leadership.

Pelosi has been mum on her future plans. Asked about them on Sunday, she told CNN’s “State of the Union” that “my decision will then be rooted in what — the wishes of my family and the wishes of my caucus.”

“But none of it will be very much considered until we see what the outcome of all of this is,” she added of the elections.

During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper last week, the Speaker said her “decision will be affected” by the recent attack on her husband, Paul Pelosi, at their San Francisco residence.

While other House Democrats are rumored to be eyeing the top spot in the Democratic caucus, none have officially announced bids as Pelosi’s future remains unknown.

Jayapal is also said to be eyeing a leadership role in the caucus. Those prospects, however, were darkened last month when the Progressive Caucus released and quickly rescinded a letter pushing for diplomacy with Russia.

Whether she runs for leadership or not, Jayapal told reporters Sunday “there’s no question that this will be the most progressive Democratic caucus in decades.”

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