Skip to content
Sign up to receive our free weekday morning edition, and you'll never miss a scoop.
Former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.)

Tom Suozzi takes lead on border task force amid Henry Cuellar indictment

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) is taking the reins of the House Democrats’ border security task force after his co-chair Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) was indicted on federal bribery and money laundering charges late last month. Imelda Cuellar, the congressman’s wife, was also charged in the case.

Cuellar will remain co-chair, we’re told. The task force, formally titled “Democrats for Border Security,” is meant to be a messaging solution for Frontliners who are getting hammered on border security and immigration by Republicans.

“[Cuellar is] going to stay involved as co-chair, but he’s asked me to take the lead,” Suozzi told us.

That decision isn’t sitting well with some members of the task force. These Democrats expressed concern that keeping Cuellar in this position could be a distraction on an issue that’s important to their own reelections.

Rep. Nikki Budzinski (D-Ill.) said she thinks Cuellar should consider stepping down, adding that the border is a top concern in her district.

“I don’t want any distractions to get things accomplished,” Budzinski told us. “It is one of the top issues coming into November.”

Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-N.C.) signaled that Cuellar isn’t the only option to co-lead the group.

“There are many more people who are part of that task force,” Nickel told us.

Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Ohio) said it didn’t matter to her who led the task force, but worried about personalities overshadowing the policy work.

“There’s plenty of people who can discuss this issue,” Sykes told us.

Cuellar defended the decision to keep his co-chair title.

“I’m still going to be part of the work,” Cuellar told us. “Border security is still an issue even though the numbers have gone down.”

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas) backed Cuellar’s decision, saying the veteran lawmaker has experience on border issues that many in the Democratic Caucus lack.

“He’s still in the House and he’s obviously got a lot of knowledge about the border,” Gonzalez told us. “He still has an important contribution and we’ve got to keep working.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries announced earlier this month that Cuellar is taking leave from his position as the ranking member of the Homeland Security subcommittee on the Appropriations panel.

Cuellar has also temporarily stepped aside from his leadership role as chief deputy whip.

But when we asked Jeffries about Cuellar continuing to lead the task force, the New York Democrat said that has not come up in leadership discussions and he hasn’t heard from any of his members about it being an issue.

Meanwhile, Suozzi is already leading the border security caucus. Suozzi was handing out plans to members on Wednesday about their next meeting. The caucus, which hasn’t met since it launched in March, will hold its next meeting on June 3.

— Mica Soellner

Presented by Verizon

The increase in mobile usage doesn’t mean home internet usage is down. In fact, it’s the opposite. Verizon 5g/LTE Home Internet subscribers grew by 111% year-over-year. Check out the Consumer Connections Report to learn more.

Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.