Rep. Kurt Schrader, a Democrat from Oregon, questions witnesses during a hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Capitol Hill on June 23, 2020 in Washington.
CNN  — 

President Joe Biden has issued his first endorsement of the 2022 campaign cycle and backed incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, who is facing a progressive primary challenger supported by some high-profile liberal figures and groups.

“We don’t always agree, but when it has mattered most, Kurt has been there for me. And in doing so, he has helped to pass much of my agenda into law – making a huge difference in the lives of the Oregonians he represents and all of America,” reads Biden’s endorsement of Schrader, which was released over the weekend.

The President said Schrader, who has held his seat for 13 years, “has had my back from early on and played an important part in the progress we have made as a nation.”

The choice is notable given it’s unusual for a president to weigh in on a congressional primary race, though it is widely expected that presidents back incumbents in their races. It’s also notable because of Schrader’s opposition to several key Biden priorities and the support Schrader’s progressive primary challenger is receiving. Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and other liberal groups, including the Working Families Party and Indivisible, have thrown their support behind attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner. Four local county Democratic parties have also endorsed McLeod-Skinner ahead of the May 17 primary.

Schrader has voted against raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, voted against a proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices during a committee markup as Democrats were struggling to stay united on Build Back Better and initially opposed the American Rescue Plan. He ultimately voted for the American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law, and Build Back Better, which never made it to the President’s desk.

Days after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, Schrader apologized after reports surfaced that he had likened the second impeachment of President Donald Trump to a “lynching” during a caucus conference call.

A Biden adviser said the President will be “endorsing incumbents who have been with him on votes and supporting his agenda which is helping the American people,” and said to expect more endorsements from the President.

“He’s always evaluating each race and request as they come in, but think it’s worth noting he hasn’t often done this, so we take that seriously but are also being strategic about what we are doing here. He won’t be endorsing in open primaries, as has been his longstanding position,” the adviser said.

Biden praised Schrader last week during his trip to Portland, saying the congressman has “played a key part in the progress we’ve made as a nation on jobs, economic growth, and clean energy. Thank you very much, pal. And he’s a strong and consistent voice to make sure we modernize our infrastructure and help Oregon and everyone all across America.”