L.A.’s Barragán seeks to guide the Congressional Hispanic Caucus

Nanette Diaz Barragán and Joe Biden

President Biden sings “Pleased Birthday” to Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-San Pedro) after she launched him finally week’s Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala in Washington.
(Alex Brandon / Related Press)

Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-San Pedro) has been privately speaking to members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus about turning into its subsequent chair.

The 36-member group is at present led by Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Coachella), however the caucus chairs often solely serve a single two-year time period. Barragán is the group’s No. 2 chief and chairs its affiliated nonprofit, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, a bunch that goals to develop the following era of Latino leaders.

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“I’ve been speaking to members about being chair, and to date, so good,” Barragán stated in an interview. “I’ll proceed speaking to members till the tip of the time period and see if I get that honor.”

Barragán, who was first elected to Congress in 2016, stated she’s benefited from seeing the management of Ruiz and his predecessors, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and former Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), who’s now the governor of New Mexico.

Barragán has been chatting with members about adjustments they wish to see throughout the caucus. However the group’s conversations with the White Home about its workers variety — or lack thereof — and its actions to spotlight caucus members’ initiatives are “nice examples of what we have to proceed to do,” she stated.

“I’ll take one thing from every of these chairs that I realized from and apply it after which additionally, after all, hear new members and listen to members which are right here about what they need,” she stated. “So I’m trying ahead to persevering with to speak to my colleagues and hope to earn their assist for the race.”

Management races often start in earnest after election day, with candidates sending “Pricey Colleague” letters to specific curiosity in a put up earlier than the caucus or group votes. However a number of Home Democrats and Republicans have already begun publicly jockeying for management slots and coveted committee posts for the following Congress.

Home Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), as an illustration, informed The Occasions over the summer season that he was having conversations with colleagues about serving in a distinct management place subsequent yr. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is serving out what’s anticipated to be her last time period as Democratic chief, however she hasn’t revealed what she’ll do after the Nov. 8 election.

Barragán, a daughter of Mexican immigrants who represents a majority-Latino Southern California district that incorporates many immigrant and working-class communities, can be the sixth lady to chair the Congressional Hispanic Caucus since its founding in 1976. The promotion would give her a distinguished perch in Congress throughout a high-stakes presidential cycle wherein President Biden and former President Trump seem more likely to face off once more.

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“I believe being a voice for the Latino group goes to be extremely vital, and … having somebody who’s not afraid to talk reality to the administration or the enterprise group or to our colleagues goes to be extremely vital, and having a robust voice to try this goes to be useful to the caucus and to the nation, and I believe having a Latina try this, it’s not misplaced on me how impactful that’s, too,” stated Home Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands).

Barragán has been a “pressure of nature” since coming to Congress, Aguilar added. “She’s been an ideal advocate for her group, and that units her aside.”

Barragán launched Biden finally week’s Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala, calling the function considered one of her “huge honors.” The gala was held in particular person for the primary time for the reason that COVID-19 pandemic started. The president sang “Pleased Birthday” to her as the 2 shared the stage forward of his remarks, and Barragán stated she was additionally in a position to chat with the president backstage.

“It was actually superb. We had an almost sold-out crowd,” Barragán stated. “We had been in a position to spotlight and honor individuals who have been contributing to the Latino group.”

Barragán has doubled her dues to BOLD PAC, the caucus’ political motion committee, and supported quite a lot of Latino candidates for Congress, together with Maxwell Frost in Florida, Greg Casar and Michelle Vallejo in Texas, and Andrea Salinas in Oregon.

She lamented that getting extra Democratic Latinas elected to Congress has been a problem. Barragán stated she and Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto had been the one newly elected Democratic Latinas in Congress in 2016.

“We’ve simply obtained to verify we don’t have years like that once more,” Barragán stated.

Although congressional Republicans have sought to maintain their midterm message centered on the financial system and inflation, Democrats have hammered them on abortion rights and forged far-right Republicans as threats to democracy.

In latest weeks, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, each Republicans, have efficiently returned immigration to the middle of the nationwide dialog by mounting stunts corresponding to flying migrants to Martha’s Winery in Massachusetts and Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington, D.C.

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Barragán, who chairs the Homeland Safety Committee’s Subcommittee on Border Safety, Facilitation and Operations, is “completely” prepared for that dialog, she stated.

“It’s actually shameful what they’re doing,” she stated of the pair of GOP governors, who’re each operating for reelection this yr. “Nevertheless it’s a distraction. They don’t wish to discuss the actual points at hand, that are issues like abortion is at stake, our democracy is at stake.”

Barragán seems to have broad assist throughout the caucus, although she is the one member to declare curiosity in succeeding Ruiz.

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) described her as a hardworking “Energizer bunny” who “beat the percentages” to get elected to Congress.

“I believe she deserves to be chair, and I’m going to assist her,” he stated. “She’s constant, and I like that about her. I believe she’s obtained her coronary heart in the suitable place on the subject of Hispanic, Latino, Chicano points, and that’s why I believe she’s going to make a great chair.”

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), the uncommon congressional Democrat who opposes abortion rights, conceded in an interview that he didn’t know whether or not a second candidate was operating to develop into the following caucus chair.

“If it’s her and she or he’s the candidate, I’d be completely happy to assist her,” he stated. “She’s very gifted, very concerned, is aware of the problems, and she or he’s additionally understanding that within the Hispanic Caucus, there’s completely different viewpoints.”

One member of the caucus, who requested anonymity to talk candidly about inside dynamics, recalled that Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) was involved in serving as caucus chair this Congress. The member stated it was unclear whether or not Escobar remained within the put up or would problem Barragán.

Requested about her curiosity, Escobar stated she had her eyes set on a put up exterior of the caucus. “I’ll be operating for a distinct management place,” she stated. “However I’m going to speak to my colleagues about it first.”

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