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Congressional black caucus withholds support for Pelosi

By Evan Glass, CNN
  • House Democratic leadership creates post for member of Congressional Black Caucus
  • The caucus is withholding its support for full party slate until roles are defined
  • Democrats lost control of the House in the midterm elections

Washington (CNN) -- The Congressional Black Caucus has decided to withhold its approval for the House Democratic leadership team, denying Speaker Nancy Pelosi full support of the 42-member organization as she campaigns to remain leader.

After a nearly two hour long meeting on Monday night, chairwoman Barbara Lee of California said the group only will endorse caucus member James Clyburn of South Carolina for a leadership position. The caucus first wants to know what his role will be in the Democratic leadership before backing the full slate.

"We fully support our current Whip, Mr. Clyburn, for the number three position and we are currently reserving judgment on the entire package until we see what the actual portfolio entails, in terms of responsibilities," Lee said.

With Democrats losing their majority status in the upcoming House session, they will also lose one leadership position.

Clyburn had decided to run against Rep. Steny Hoyer for the position of minority whip in the upcoming Congress, but was offered the role of assistant leader as it became clear he would not prevail in his campaign. Pelosi created the post in the House leadership team especially for Clyburn, to acknowledge the important role African-Americans play in the party.

Neither Clyburn nor Lee explained what roles and responsibilities they wanted the job of assistant leader to entail.

"We want to make sure that there is a substantive weight given to that position," Rep. Yvette Clarke of New York said, stressing she did not want it to be a "marginal" or "ceremonial" type of position.

"Right now it is just the beginning of the discussion," she added.