Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), who is in charge of defending the Democratic majority in the House, is backing out of a fundraiser for Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) amid criticism that the party shouldn’t be throwing its resources behind a lawmaker who opposes abortion rights.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair was set to appear at a Lipinski fundraiser in Chicago next month.
Bustos’ office tweeted a statement Wednesday evening, saying that while she had worked closely with Lipinski and still supports a “big tent Democratic caucus,” she would not be attending the fundraiser for him.
She didn’t directly say why she was canceling her appearance, but it comes after she faced significant criticism for throwing public support and resources behind Lipinski despite his record on abortion rights. And in her statement, she notably points out that she has a “100 percent pro-choice voting record.”
Progressive groups have been fuming at the DCCC over its new policy of cutting off business with vendors who work with candidates mounting primary challenges against incumbent House Democrats. The policy has hurt Lipinski’s 2020 primary challenger, Marie Newman, who is far to the left of him. She announced last month that four consulting firms abandoned her campaign in response to the DCCC’s rule.
But there was a silver lining for Newman: She received a flood of online donations as progressives mobilized in protest of the DCCC policy.
Bustos’ latest move comes as Democrats are hammering GOP-controlled state legislatures for passing bills that ban abortion and limit women’s reproductive rights.
Most significantly, Alabama recently signed into law the strictest abortion ban in the country, banning abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest.
On Tuesday, abortion rights supporters rallied nationwide, with a big event at the Supreme Court in Washington, urging the justices not to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Democrats have been going after Republicans for laws like the one in Alabama, but their position has been weakened by the fact that groups like the DCCC and the Democratic Governors Association defend members of the party who don’t back abortion and who have supported anti-abortion measures.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund praised Bustos for bowing out of Lipinski’s fundraiser and plugged its support for Newman.
“Now, when we’re seeing a rash of abortion bans sweeping the country with the goal of challenging Roe v. Wade, the work of electing officials who support access to safe, legal abortion is more important than ever,” said Kelley Robinson, the group’s executive director. “Planned Parenthood Action Fund proudly endorsed reproductive health and rights champion Marie Newman earlier this month and looks forward to ensuring her victory next year.”
This story has been updated with reaction from Planned Parenthood Action Fund.