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.

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The groups want Democratic leaders to name Reps. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalProgressive House Democrat unveils bill to allow state-based 'Medicare for All' Progressives press Democrats to rethink Israel policy Democratic lawmakers call on Judiciary Committee to advance 'revenge porn' law MORE (D-Wash.) and Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaDemocratic lawmaker: It 'defies logic' for Trump to push Ukraine to investigate Biden Overnight Health Care: CDC links vitamin E oil to vaping illnesses | White House calls Pelosi drug price plan 'unworkable' | Dem offers bill for state-based 'Medicare for All' Justice Democrats official denies that progressives struggle with electability MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOn The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings Overnight Energy: Perry replacement faces Ukraine questions at hearing | Dem chair demands answers over land agency's relocation | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders unveil 0B Green New Deal public housing plan Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez drum up support for Green New Deal public housing plan 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 TlaibOcasio-Cortez jabs 'plutocratic' late entrants to 2020 field Krystal Ball: Billionaires panicking over Sanders candidacy Sanders: Fighting anti-Semitism 'is very personal' 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 WarrenButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Following school shooting, Biden speaks out: 'We have to protect these kids' MORE (D-Mass.).

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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 PelosiTrump knocks testimony from 'Never Trumpers' at Louisiana rally Jordan calls Pelosi accusing Trump of bribery 'ridiculous' USMCA deal close, but not 'imminent,' Democrats say 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.