Liberal groups launch effort to get progressives on key House committees

A coalition of progressive organizations are launching an effort to push House Democratic leadership to appoint several notable liberal lawmakers to key committees with jurisdiction over economic issues.

The organizations — which include Justice Democrats, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the Democratic Socialists of America — say they want more progressive lawmakers on the committees to keep the Democratic Party accountable to voters rather than corporate donors.

"As nearly every major potential Democratic presidential contender embraces progressive ideas like Medicare For All, free college, and ending mass deportation and incarceration, we need progressive champions on key House committees that would fight to pass these policies under a Democratic administration, not centrists who would simply cave to their big corporate donors," Justice Democrats Executive Director Alexandra Rojas said in a statement.

The groups want Democratic leaders to name Reps. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalHouse Democrats seek to move past rifts with minimum wage bill Problem Solvers Caucus co-chair calls Trump comments about progressive congresswomen 'totally unacceptable' Trump's tweets unify a fractured Democratic Party MORE (D-Wash.) and Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaCongress, stop ducking war-declaration authority on Iran The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: Here's how to choose a president House and Senate head for showdown on must-pass defense bill MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezPhiladelphia mayor: Trump would 'go to hell' if he had to go back to where he came from Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout The four Republicans who voted to condemn Trump's tweets MORE (D-N.Y.) to the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over issues including taxes, health care, trade and Social Security. The groups want Jayapal to receive a waiver so that she could serve on Ways and Means while also retaining her seat on the House Judiciary Committee.

Jayapal will be a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus next year, and Khanna will be the group's first vice chair. Ocasio-Cortez became a rockstar among progressives when she defeated House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a primary earlier this year.

A spokeswoman for Khanna confirmed that the congressman is interested in a seat on Ways and Means.

Additionally, the groups want Democratic leaders to name Rep.-elect Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibScaramucci calls Trump tweets 'racist and unacceptable' House Democrat pushes for censuring Trump in closed-door meeting Black Caucus leader calls Trump's attacks on minority lawmakers 'despicable' MORE (D-Mich.) to the House Appropriations Committee, which overseas the funding of federal agencies, and Rep.-elect Katie Porter (D-Calif.) to the House Financial Services Committee, which overseas banks, lenders and insurance companies.

Tlaib will be one of the first two Muslim-American women to serve in Congress and is expected to be a leading progressive voice in the incoming freshman class. Porter is a former student and research partner of progressive Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' Trump says administration will 'take a look' after Thiel raises concerns about Google, China Thiel calls Warren the most 'dangerous' Democratic candidate MORE (D-Mass.).

 

Seats on the Appropriations, Ways and Means and Financial Services committees are much-sought-after, and it can be difficult for freshmen members to get appointed to the panels. Members of the more centrist Blue Dog Democrats and New Democrats will also want seats on the committees.

The progressive groups noted that Jayapal reportedly received a commitment from presumed next House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Democrat pushes for censuring Trump in closed-door meeting Trump: I don't have a racist bone in my body Ocasio-Cortez responds to fresh criticism from Trump MORE (D-Calif.) to get progressive caucus members more seats on the top committees.

“Imagine what the world would look like if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were in the middle of the discussion about repealing the Trump tax cuts for corporations on Ways & Means," said Adam Green, executive director of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "And if Elizabeth Warren's protégé, Katie Porter, were on the Financial Services Committee holding Wall Street accountable. And if Rashida Tlaib were on Appropriations getting money to places like Flint, Michigan, that have been left behind." 

The groups said that they plan to get members of the public to tweet, call and meet with Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders as part of their effort to get prominent progressives on the committees.

A spokeswoman for Pelosi had no comment on the progressive groups' efforts.