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National progressive group labels six lawmakers ‘progressive in name only’ in new report

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks at a rally to promote childcare in the Build Back Better Act at the Reflecting Pool of the Capitol on Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
Greg Nash

A national progressive grassroots organization is labeling six members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus “progressive in name only,” or “PINO” in a new report released on Thursday. 

The report released by RootsAction.org, titled “Meet The PINOs: “Progressive In Name Only,” targets Democratic Reps. Madeleine Dean (Pa.), Donald Norcross (N.J.), Jimmy Panetta (Calif.), Joseph Morelle (N.Y.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (Del.) and Brenda Lawrence (Mich.). 

The label is reminiscent of the derisive “RINO” label, meaning “Republican in name only,” sometimes applied to out-of-favor members of the GOP.

Norcross responded to the report on Thursday, listing off his own list of progressive accomplishments. 

“As a life-long union member, I wake up every day fighting for working families. I was elected by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus as vice-chair of labor. And I proudly support the American Rescue Plan and the Build Back Better Act, which is the largest expansion of health care in over a decade and makes child care affordable for working families nationwide,” Norcross told The Hill. “Additionally, I support expansion of clean energy programs that create green jobs with strong labor protections. I was among the first supporters of increasing the federal minimum wage. If that’s not progressive, I don’t know what is.”

The Hill has reached out to all the lawmakers highlighted in the report. 

The group accused the six lawmakers named in the report of often acting “more like corporate centrists” on issues like “Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, cutting military spending, [and] robust civil liberties.” 

“Our research shows that many caucus members don’t actually legislate like progressives,” said Christopher Cook, the report’s author. 

The report marks the first time a major progressive coalition has publicly gone after members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Additionally, the report comes less than a year before the 2022 midterm elections, when progressives are expected to participate in a number of Democratic primaries. The report calls on progressives to primary the lawmakers in question. 

“How can we achieve these critical reforms when some so-called ‘progressives’ refuse to challenge the status quo? Some of these folks in strongly Democratic districts seem ripe for a serious progressive primary challenge, if not this coming year then certainly in 2024,” Cook wrote. 

A number of Congressional Progressive Caucus members, including chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), recently flexed the group’s muscles by delaying a vote on President Biden’s infrastructure bill because the legislation was originally supposed to pass alongside the massive Build Back Better social spending legislation. But leaders ultimately angered some of their own when they made a deal to vote on infrastructure first. The House later passed the Build Back Better spending bill, but it is now stalled in the Senate. 

Tags Brenda Lawrence Donald Norcross Jimmy Panetta Joe Biden Joe Morelle Joseph Morelle Madeleine Dean Pramila Jayapal

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