House Dem leaders calm outrage over Hispanic Caucus chair


Rep. Nanette Barragán is staying on as Hispanic Caucus chair after leaders like No. 3 House Democrat Pete Aguilar worked to cool temperatures within the bloc over the ouster of a top staffer, according to three people familiar with the situation.

The group had convened a virtual meeting with its members on Monday where Barragán, a Democrat from California, laid out her side of the story. She had faced questions about her leadership of the Hispanic Caucus after the abrupt firing of her executive director, Jacky Usyk, just a month into the job.

Some in the caucus weighed ousting Barragán from the position. But Democrats appeared willing to move on from the controversy after Aguilar and other Hispanic Caucus leaders contacted lawmakers to address their concerns over the weekend.

Usyk’s removal had roiled the bloc’s members, who are typically conflict-averse. A well-respected Hill veteran, she’d been brought on as the Hispanic Caucus head staffer earlier this year after stints with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.). The group, following Usyk’s termination, now has no staffers.

Barragán, a fourth-term lawmaker, has developed a reputation as a harsh boss — netting higher-than-average turnover in her office, as tracked by the nonpartisan site Legistorm. She’d brought on Usyk as the top staffer for the Hispanic Caucus, but other top staffers departed the group soon after Barragán was elected unopposed to its top job in December.

The lack of staff threatens to hurt the caucus’ ability to meaningfully engage on policies like immigration, preventing the group from leading House Democrats on certain critical issues. The group was set this week to bring on a new communications director, Bianca Lugo Lewis, though it is unclear if she will still start the job. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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