Progressive Caucus begins year with a bigger roster and focuses on unity

Progressive Caucus begins year with a bigger roster and focuses on unity

Politics has always been about internal struggles and ideological infighting. However, this year progressive Democrats are pledging unity in the House, while conservative Republicans rebelled against their leader until they were satisfied.

In 2023, the Congressional Progressive Caucus will have a larger roster and a bolder agenda. It also has a promise to work with moderate Democrats as well as the Biden administration in order to defeat the GOP majority, promote worker rights, immigration, and solve the climate crisis.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (a Washington Democrat), who heads the caucus said, “We’re going be a helluva party.” We know that Republicans will bring an extremist right-wing agenda.

She added that “We cannot be just an opposition party.” Because our aim is to get back to the majority in 2024, we will also need to become a proposition party.

With 103 members, nearly half the total 212 Democratic list, progressives have greater potential to exert more influence in an increasingly divided chamber. Maxwell Alejandro Frost from Florida is the 16th member. He was the first Generation Z representative to Congress. Becca Balint from Vermont, Summer Lee from Pennsylvania, and Maxwell Alejandro Frost from Florida are the other new members.

The Progressive Caucus has grown to be the largest in its history, but it is not likely that the ambitious agenda will come to fruition when the chamber is controlled by Republicans. The caucus will instead press Biden’s administration to take executive action on several issues including declaring “climate emergencies” and strengthening overtime rules for workers, as well as restraining GOP attempts to reduce Social Security and Medicare.

Representative Greg Casar from Texas, who will be the whip of the caucus, is positive. He stated that the caucus will remain focused on economic issues which, he said, bind Democrats from all ideological sides.

Casar stated, “If you look at how FDR or LBJ created large Democratic majority, it was with a better economic inclusive vision of the country.” This is what progressive caucus must be driving at. I believe that this will attract a lot more Democratic caucus members, who might not be part of the Progressive Caucus but could work with us to address these issues of economic fairness.

“Laptops and conspiracies”

Casar stated that the divisions in the House GOP, as demonstrated by the struggle over selecting a speaker, offers liberal Democrats an opportunity.

He said, “If Republicans just want to focus on the circus of…people’s laptops, conspiracy theories, then it presents an opportunity to Democrats to not only be opposition to Trumpist Republican Party, but also show people what a positive vision the country could be.”

Progressives want to project a united image in the face GOP discord. However, they have also clashed with their party members over policy. This includes the last-year strategy for bringing forward for vote a bipartisan bill for infrastructure and a package that addresses climate, tax and other issues.

DeWayne Lucas is a political scientist from Hobart College and William Smith Colleges. He believes that the division between different factions of the Democratic Party has been exaggerated.

Lucas stated in an email that there have been many instances where caucus members or their groups have tried to push the agenda of the party in ways that were disruptive of party goals. However, there are also far more cases of caucus members giving up on the ideal positions that would allow for compromises that will advance party policy and the party. As long as the caucus sees its progressive values reflecting the objectives of the party’s goals, [caucus] Members have worked together with the party in order to bring about legislation.”

This contrasts sharply with the House Freedom Caucus’ tactics.

Lucas stated that the Freedom Caucus was rooted in Tea Party movements and emerged in Congress to work against the leadership. The Freedom Caucus’ political success has been often defined by its opposition to the leadership and avoidance of compromise from within the party. They also have extreme policies that are quickly becoming moving targets.

Jayapal rejected the idea of comparing the two groups. She stated that the Freedom Caucus was a caucus against, while the Progressive Caucus was a caucus for yes. I think that the session showed us how we can push but also how we land the plane. We know how govern.

Adam Green is the co-founder and chief executive of Progressive Change Campaign Committee. The committee works to elect liberal candidates. He stated that labels don’t really matter, and internal politics can distract from the common goals Democrats have, especially on economic issues. He stated that “Progressives…will help to make the case to the public and create oxygen in the space for bold ideas the Biden Administration might be willing to accept but needs to support in order to get out the gate.”

Sixteen of the new freshman align with the progressive Working Families Party. Joe Dinkin is the national campaign director for the party. He said that these candidates, some of whom were beaten back by GOP attempts to label them socialists, won their election by focusing on legislative wins such as the passage of the Climate, Health Care, and Tax Package, commonly known as the Inflation Reduction Act.

Dinkin stated that while Democrats had some wins in the previous Congress, a handful of Democrats supported corporate power over the interest of workers and restricted what they could accomplish, such as on prescription drugs or the child tax credit. We believe that we must paint a clear picture about how government will be used to help working people — this is the blueprint we hope to see Democrats use on the campaign trail as well as in the office.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries (incoming House Minority Leader) shares certain policy priorities with progressives. These include advocating voting rights and dealing with police brutality. He did not agree to the Green New Deal which is one of the signature measures in the caucus. He also selected Rep. Suzan DeBene, a Washington Democrat who served as the Chair of the New Democrat Coalition pro-business group, to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Jeffries was the first Black leader in a congressional caucus of either party and met shortly after being elevated to that position.

Green stated that Hakeem Jeffries is more progressive than most people think, especially on economic issues. He wants Democrats to win in general. “He’s smart enough to know that populist, bold economic policies… are very popular, even within red or purple districts. His prospects are excellent for exceeding expectations.

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