Jan 17, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Squad member gets Democratic leadership backing

Rep. Summer Lee speaks at a press conference calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war on Nov. 13, 2023. Photo: Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images.

Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.), a member of the progressive "Squad," is getting a boost from House Democratic leadership in her contested primary.

Why it matters: It's the latest example of House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) supporting Democratic incumbents even as pro-Israel groups wage a massive push to unseat progressive lawmakers.

Driving the news: Jeffries, Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) released a joint statement on Wednesday endorsing Lee.

  • "A civil rights champion, advocate for organized labor and the first Black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress, Summer Lee has worked tirelessly to deliver for working families," they said.
  • "We proudly endorse Summer Lee's re-election campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives so she can help us take back the House majority, oppose the extreme MAGA Republican agenda and continue our tremendous progress for Pennsylvanians."

State of play: Lee, a former member of the Democratic Socialists of America and former state legislator, was elected to Congress in 2022 after defeating a crowded Democratic primary field.

  • She has since emerged as a solidly pro-Palestinian voice within the Democratic caucus, voting against a multiple pro-Israel measures widely supported by lawmakers both parties.
  • Lee now faces primary challengers from local legislator Bhavini Patel and Center for Victims CEO Laurie MacDonald, both of whom have criticized Lee's stance on Israel.

The big picture: Lee is not the only member of the Squad facing a credible primary challenge.

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