Friday, November 18, 2022

Welcoming New Members, Progressive Caucus Vows to 'Double Down' on Bold Agenda

"There will now be more progressives in Congress than at any other time in modern history," said Rep.-elect Greg Casar of Texas.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus welcomed around a dozen newly elected members to its ranks on Sunday after bold candidates across the country—from Summer Lee in Pennsylvania to Greg Casar in Texas—delivered midterm wins that helped the Democratic Party stave off the widely predicted GOP "red wave."

Buoyed by strong youth turnout, a majority of the candidates that the CPC's campaign arm endorsed for the November 8 contests emerged victorious last week, an outcome that will push the progressive bloc's membership above 100 in the 118th Congress.

The CPC has grown substantially in recent years, and its leaders have attempted—not always successfully—to wield the caucus' numbers to secure legislative victories and influence the Democratic Party's policy agenda on climate, student debt relief, and other areas of critical importance.

The latest membership boost comes after the CPC enacted structural changes in 2020 aimed at making the bloc more cohesive and capable of using its size as leverage in key legislative fights.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the CPC chair, said during a new member event Sunday at the AFL-CIO's headquarters in Washington, D.C. that the additions to the House will help form "the most progressive Democratic caucus in decades."

While Republicans are still favored to take control of the lower chamber even after winning far fewer seats than expected, Jayapal signaled Sunday that the CPC will continue to push for "real transformative change for working people in this country."

"We'll put together our full agenda over the next week or so," Jayapal said.

Among the CPC's top legislative agenda items, according to Axios, are "abolishing the debt ceiling, reinstating the Child Tax Credit, expanding Medicaid through budget reconciliation, antitrust reform, and DREAM Act immigrant protections."

"Majority or minority, we're fighting for the people," tweeted Lee, who fended off a last-minute onslaught of AIPAC spending to defeat her GOP opponent in Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District.

Casar, who handily defeated Republican Dan McQueen in Texas' 35th Congressional District, added that "there will now be more progressives in Congress than at any other time in modern history."

Joining Casar and Lee as newly elected members of the CPC are Morgan McGarvey of Kentucky, Robert Garcia of California, Shri Thanedar of Michigan, Maxwell Frost of Florida, Jasmine Crockett of Texas, Jill Tokuda of Hawaii, Delia Ramirez and Jonathan Jackson of Illinois, and Becca Balint of Vermont.

In addition to pushing its legislative priorities, the CPC is also working to ensure that progressives are represented in the upper ranks of the Democratic Party's leadership in Congress.

Last week, Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.)—the CPC's vice chair for new members—announced his bid for House Democratic Caucus chair, a term-limited position currently held by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). In 2018, House Democrats elected Jeffries to the post over progressive Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).

"As votes across the country continue to be counted, it is clear that the stakes of the 118th Congress could not be higher," Neguse wrote in a letter to colleagues on Thursday. "With our country at a crossroads, it will be more important than ever for the House Democratic Caucus to be unified and singularly focused. It is with that in mind that I respectfully request your support of my candidacy for chair of the House Democratic Caucus."

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