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Rep. Barbara Lee tells colleagues she's running for California's Senate seat in 2024

Washington — Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California told fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday that she plans to run for California's U.S. Senate seat next year, two people familiar with the meeting told CBS News. 

Lee, 76, has represented Oakland, Berkeley and other parts of the Bay Area since 1998. She's one of the most liberal members of Congress and was the only lawmaker to vote against authorizing the use of force against Afghanistan in 2001.

Lee has not made a formal announcement. Her decision to share her intentions with colleagues comes a day after Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat who represents parts of Orange County, became the first contender to announce her 2024 plans.  

Rep. Barbara Lee at a news conference in the Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022.
Rep. Barbara Lee at a news conference in the Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Porter brushed off questions Tuesday about the timing of her announcement, given record rainfall and flooding in the Golden State. 

"These storms are just one example of the urgency and making sure that we have leaders who understand what our country and what California is facing," Porter told reporters. 

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has held the California seat since 1992 and has not yet signaled if she plans to run for reelection. But the 89-year-old has faced calls to step aside from fellow Democrats and other critics concerned that she can no longer effectively serve. At the start of the year, she passed on serving as Senate president pro tempore, a largely ceremonial role for the longest-serving member of the majority party that would have put her in the presidential line of succession.

Feinstein spoke with Lee late last year, according to two people with knowledge of the conversation. A congressional aide confirms Porter's office also reached out to the California senator around the time of her Tuesday announcement. 

"Everyone is of course welcome to throw their hat in the ring, and I will make an announcement concerning my plans for 2024 at the appropriate time," Feinstein said in a statement to CBS News. "Right now I'm focused on ensuring California has all the resources it needs to cope with the devastating storms slamming the state and leaving more than a dozen dead."

Ellis Kim contributed reporting.

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