Top Democrat: It's time for Pelosi's leadership team to go

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks about the recent attack on the Republican Congressional Baseball team during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017.

Aaron P. Bernstein

Last Updated Oct 5, 2017 3:19 PM EDT

Rep. Linda Sanchez, a top U.S. House Democrat from California, said Thursday it's time for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team to step aside and make way for the next generation of leaders.

The comments from the vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, set to air on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" show Sunday, are likely the strongest comments any senior Democrat has made questioning Pelosi's leadership. The 77-year-old Pelosi, first elected as a California representative in 1987, has served in congressional leadership since 2001. Sanchez, asked who is the leader of the Democratic Party, said she doesn't think there's any single leader in the House. 

"Our leadership does a tremendous job. But I do think we have this real breadth and depth of talent within our caucus and I do think it's time to pass a torch to a new generation of leaders and I want to be a part of that transition," Sanchez told reporters for the Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times during the show's taping. "I want to see that happen. I think we have too many great members here that don't always get the opportunities that they should. I would like to see that change."

Sanchez, pressed to clarify her comments, didn't back down. She told the reporters Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, and House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn should also be read to step aside. 

"They are all of the same generation and again, their contributions to the Congress and the caucus are substantial. But I think there comes a time when you need to pass that torch. And I think it's time," Sanchez said.

Sanchez, 48, is the fifth-ranking Democrat in Congress. She won her leadership race as vice chair by only one vote, and the seniority argument she espoused is likely to annoy some fellow Democrats, according to a senior Democratic aide. The timing of Sanchez' remarks look particularly craven to some members after Pelosi's efforts to maintain unity during the health care fight, and the recent agreements she reached with President Trump.

Other Democrats have also called for Pelosi to step aside. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Massachusetts, told CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett it's time for change before the 2018 midterm elections.

Responding to the Sanchez interview, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said his boss " enjoys wide support."

"Leader Pelosi enjoys wide support in the Caucus and has always said she not in Congress on a shift but on a mission. Leader Pelosi is focused on winning back the House and anything else is a distraction from our path to the Majority."

C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" airs Sundays at 10 a.m.

CBS News' Robbert Gifford and Catherine Reynolds contributed to this report. 

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.