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House Democrats

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif., center) stands flanked by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md., right) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C., left) at a November 5, 2021 news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


Top House Democrats Under Fresh Fire for Backing Anti-Choice Cuellar

If Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn "really want to lead in this moment," said one progressive activist, "they must un-endorse Rep. Henry Cuellar and back Jessica Cisneros."

Brett Wilkins

In the wake of the bombshell leak of a U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion likely signifying the reversal of Roe v. Wade, progressives on Tuesday blasted the three ranking House Democrats for voicing support for reproductive rights while continuing to back anti-choice Rep. Henry Cuellar's bid for reelection in Texas.

"Clyburn is literally traveling to San Antonio for a fundraiser and rally with Cuellar tomorrow—it's shameful."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) all expressed alarm over the prospect that the landmark 49-year-old Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing the right to abortion will be overturned, while affirming their support for reproductive rights.

However, critics took all three Democratic leaders to task for their endorsements of Cuellar, the House Democrat with the strongest anti-choice record.

A day after his office and home were raided by FBI agents in January as part of a federal probe relating to the country of Azerbaijan, Cuellar remotely addressed the Democrats for Life annual March for Life breakfast in Washington, D.C. and was awarded the group's Legislator of the Year Award "for his defense of life from womb to tomb."

Varshini Prakash, executive director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, lamented that Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn "have no problem campaigning for their friend" Cuellar.

"Clyburn is literally traveling to San Antonio for a fundraiser and rally with Cuellar tomorrow—it's shameful," she said. "Our leaders on reproductive rights are actively looking the other way as Jessica Cisneros, an inspiring young Latina is fighting for our right to choose and their values."

Cisneros, a progressive immigration attorney, is seeking to unseat Cuellar in a May 24 Democratic primary runoff. On Tuesday she tweeted that Cuellar was the only House Democrat "to vote with Republicans against codifying Roe" via the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), which was approved by the House last September but failed to pass in the Senate after right-wing West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin joined GOP lawmakers in a filibuster.

In contrast to Pelosi and others, more progressive Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took to social media on Tuesday to elevate their support for Cisneros.

"Right now, young people need to know Democrats are fighting for them," said Prakash, who asserted that if Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn "really want to lead in this moment, they must un-endorse Rep. Henry Cuellar and back Jessica Cisneros for TX-28."

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