CONGRESS | Rep. Barbara Lee has not been shy recently about her desire to move up the upper rings of the Democratic Party. On Thursday, the Congressional Black Caucus, of which she is a member, urged President Obama to consider Lee for the vacant cabinet position at the Labor Department.
Hilda Solis resigned this week with an eye on running for the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors. The caucus also recommended Rep. Melvin Watt (D-N.C.) for commerce secretary, but it is the lack of women on Obama’s menu of cabinet nominees that is causing concern among some Democratic Party groups.
The National Journal also speculated U.C. Berkeley law professor Maria Echaveste, a former Clinton deputy chief of staff, may also be in the running.
Lee’s apparent itching for a higher profile in D.C. was apparent last November when she placed herself in the running for the vice chairmanship of the House Democratic Caucus. She ultimately pulled out at the last moment, allowing Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) to run unopposed.
The progressive Oakland Democrat is best known for her sole opposition to the Iraq War and as one of the most liberal voices in Congress—two facts which may make conservatives uncomfortable. Lee has also been a strong supporter for extending unemployment benefits to out of work Americans.
In recent decades, being head of the Department of Labor and having connections to the Bay Area, has almost been a prerequisite for getting the job. Before Solis, U.C. Berkeley law professor Robert Reich held the office during the Clinton administration.