04:44 - Source: CNN
Panel spars over Sanders, Warren feud
Washington CNN  — 

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is endorsing Bernie Sanders for president and will become his national health policy chair, the Sanders campaign confirmed Sunday.

Jayapal’s decision means Sanders now has the backing of both CPC co-chairs. Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan announced his endorsement of Sanders last week. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who tweeted that Jayapal’s support was a “really big deal,” Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib lined up behind the Vermont senator last year.

Jayapal, representing Washington state, is the lead sponsor of the House “Medicare for All” bill and had been courted by both Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for whom she issued a key statement of support in November amid criticism on the left of Warren’s revised Medicare for All “transition” plan.

“I’m all in for @BernieSanders for President!,” Jayapal tweeted on Sunday. “Bernie has the bold passion, authenticity & clarity that working people across this country desperately need. We are building the progressive movement that will bring justice & opportunity & transform our country. Join us!”

Speaking to reporters in Conway, New Hampshire, on Sunday, Sanders said he was “very proud” to have Jayapal’s endorsement while touting her advocacy of “Medicare for All.”

“Pramila brings a lot of expertise on a number of issues, especially Medicare for All. I have introduced the lead legislation in the Senate. Pramila has introduced the lead legislation in the House, so you got the leaders of both bills on the campaign,” he said. “And Pramila will be playing an active role in the campaign and speaking out on Medicare for All which as you know I think is the solution to the dysfunctional health care system we have.”

The Sanders campaign also announced on Sunday that Jayapal will join the presidential hopeful in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday for a campaign rally.

The Washington Post first reported Jayapal’s endorsement, which followed news on Monday that Iowa Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen had chosen to back Warren.

With an impeachment trial looming in the Senate, the presence of high-profile surrogates on the campaign trail has taken on an added importance to senators like Sanders, Warren, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who will need to spend crucial, pre-caucus hours and days back on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, primary rivals like former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg are free to campaign across Iowa.

CNN’s Jamie Ehrlich contributed to this report.