DCCC Chair Cancels Fundraiser for Pro-Life Democratic Congressman

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D., Ill.) / Getty Images
May 23, 2019

After facing backlash from progressive activists and her fellow Democrat colleagues, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairwoman Rep. Cheri Bustos (D., Ill.) canceled a planned fundraiser on Wednesday for Rep. Dan Lipinski (D., Ill.), one of the few remaining pro-life Democrats in Congress.

Without explicitly stating why she was canceling, Bustos's announcement echoes the criticism she first received when it became public she intended to host a fundraiser for Lipinski while Republican-controlled states were taking action to limit abortion rights.

"I'm proud to have a 100 percent pro-choice voting record and I'm deeply alarmed by the rapidly escalating attacks on women's access to reproductive care in several states," Bustos said in a statement released by the DCCC.

"While Congressman Lipinski and I do not agree on women's reproductive health care, this does not change how I will work as DCCC Chair to protect our big tent Democratic caucus," she added.

Last week Crain's Chicago Business reported Bustos would be holding a fundraiser for Lipinski in Chicago to raise funds for his primary battle against progressive activist Marie Newman, who nearly toppled Lipinski in the 2018 primary. Newman's 2018 campaign primarily focused on Lipinski's socially conservative positions including on immigration, traditional marriage, and abortion, claiming he was out of touch with his Democrat constituents.

During her 2018 campaign, Newman received the endorsement and support of numerous progressive political action committees including EMILY's List, MoveOn, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. She was quick to criticize Bustos last week when news broke that Bustos would be holding a fundraiser for Lipinski.

"The day after Alabama voted to restrict a woman's right to choose, it's shocking the DCCC is fervently supporting a representative who is anti-choice, anti-birth control, and anti-health care for all," Newman said in a tweet.

On Wednesday Newman welcomed the news Bustos had decided to not participate in the fundraiser.

"It's wonderful to watch our Democratic party unify over shared values," Newman tweeted. "Yes, we're a big tent party, but Rep. Lipinski does not represent the priorities of our community."

In an interview with the New York Times, Lipinski said he understood that Bustos was "in an incredibly difficult spot" but lamented the lack of tolerance in the Democrat Party for politicians like himself who hold unorthodox positions to the rest of the party. "[T]here are people in the party who are not tolerant."