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April 19, 2024

In the Spotlight: Nanette Barragan

CQ Roll Call

April 15, 2024

California Democrat Nanette Barragán, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and other Congressional Tri-Caucus leaders are calling for the restoration of the House Office of Diversity and Inclusion after its funding was slashed. 

Republican appropriators zeroed out $3.5 million for the diversity office in the fiscal 2024 package enacted in March (PL 118-47). Barragán joined Congressional Black Caucus Chair Steven Horsford, D-Nev., and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Judy Chu, D-Calif., in an April 8 letter to Democratic leaders calling for restoration of funding in the future. 

“Republican lawmakers are so eager to score political points by eliminating all diversity and inclusion programs that they undercut a non-partisan office that dozens of their own Members have used to identify highly qualified candidates that they went on to hire,” the group wrote. House Republicans have been critical of the office, claiming it had become partisan.

Getting to Congress: Barragán took her first steps into politics with a role in the White House’s Office of Public Liaison under the Clinton administration. She worked as a lawyer before winning a seat on the Hermosa Beach City Council. Barragán served on the city council for two years, including a short stint as mayor, before throwing her hat in the race to replace Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn, who left Congress in 2016. Barragán pulled off an upset victory against Democratic State Sen. Isadore Hall, the California Democratic Party’s preferred candidate. 

Her District: The 44th District is an urban district encompassing parts of Los Angeles and Long Beach in Southern California. A major economic driver is the Port of Los Angeles. The port has ranked as the busiest container shipping port in the Western hemisphere since 2000 and is a key connection for trade with Asia, according to statistics released by port officials. Nearly $300 billion worth of cargo passed through the port in 2023. The predominantly Hispanic district is a Democratic stronghold, and Barragán won her last election with over 72 percent of the vote.

What’s New: Barragán criticized Democrats in February for excluding members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus from negotiations over border provisions included in an initial version of a foreign aid package (HR 815). “Imagine a civil rights or criminal justice bill negotiated without the Congressional Black Caucus at the table,” Barragán said in a Feb. 5 statement. That proposal stalled in the Senate after a majority of Republicans swiftly came out against the border agreement, despite having insisted for months that they would only support additional aid for Ukraine if it was accompanied with tighter border security provisions. The following week, the Senate passed a $95.3 billion security supplemental without the border deal.

Point of Interest: Since coming to Washington, Barragán has been a regular participant in the Congressional Women’s Softball Game, an annual charity match between lawmakers and members of the press. Barragán, who also plays in other congressional sporting events, made her high school baseball team, but ultimately joined the softball team instead after receiving flak from boys. “And the guys weren’t very good,” she said.