Grijalva says term 'progressive' is 'in the eyes of the beholder'

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said Thursday that Democrats are increasingly identifying themselves as progressives, but the term doesn’t necessarily have the same meaning for everyone, saying it’s “in the eyes of the beholder.”

“Everyone is a progressive now and so I guess it depends on the definition for some,” Grijalva told Hill.TV’s Jamal Simmons on “Rising.”

“It’s in the eye of the beholder I think...and I don’t think it’s lost its meaning but sometimes you have to define it,” he continued.

The Arizona Democrat said that, like the term "conservative," "progressive" doesn’t necessarily refer to a single ideology or philosophy.

“It’s kind of like conservative, I think it’s lost its meaning, it used to be pretty clear [where] I come from — Barry Goldwater state, John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain says no one in Republican Party carries 'voice of reason' after husband's death Anti-gun violence organization endorses Kelly's Senate bid McCain's family, McCain Institute to promote #ActsOfCivility in marking first anniversary of senator's death MORE state, et cetera and so we kind of grew knowing what that ideology and philosophy was,” he told Hill.TV

Grijalva is stepping down from the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) after serving as one of the leadership's co-chairs for 10 years.

The Arizona Democrat said the move will give him a chance to focus on preparing to take over the House Natural Resource Committee in the new Congress, saying he expects his new role as chairman to be both a “challenge” and a “workload.”

Grijalva added that, as part of his agenda, he plans on looking into the culture of the Interior Department after Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeBLM issues final plan for reduced Utah monument New policy at Interior's in-house watchdog clamps down on interactions with press Overnight Energy: EPA proposes scrapping limits on coal plant waste | Appointee overseeing federal lands once advocated selling them | EPA lifts Obama-era block on controversial mine MORE stepped down amid multiple ethics investigations into his various business dealing and policy decisions.

“What we want to do is elevate the issue of conservation back part of the mission and central part of the mission of the interior,” he told Hill.TV.

Grijalva has long expressed concerns about Zinke.

In an op-ed in November, Grijalva called for Zinke to “resign immediately,” arguing that’e he’s unfit to serve due to his multiple “ethics scandals and management failures.” Zinke later hit back accusing him of being a drunkard, saying Grijalva can’t “think straight from the bottom of the bottle,” and accused him of paying hush money to try to silence a former female staffer.

Grijalva said he’s glad that the House Committee on Ethics has since set the record straight.

The panel on Tuesday unanimously cleared the congressman of any wrongdoing related to a settlement that had been given to a former female staffer in 2015, and found that the payment wasn’t a misuse of funds as some, including Zinke, had claimed.

Grijalva said, while he doesn't expect that the allegations will stop, the panel’s decision will help “minimize the lies.”

—Tess Bonn